Friday, December 31, 2010

More Beautiful You

I've been avoiding this post. I've thought about starting it a dozen times, but always found something else to do instead. Then I saw on BlogHer that December was going to be Own Your Beauty month, and thought that would be perfect because I could write something about how looks are overrated, or how an individual's perception can be skewed by one hateful thing that's said by kids on the playground or an ex. Though true to me, I could write about them from a 3rd person perspective and keep my feelings in check.

But the first week of December, our 3-year-old said something to me that I couldn't ignore. It's been haunting me, because I am uncomfortable with it. It hits the raw feelings I successfully keep buried under my sarcasm. She told me I was pretty. She said she loved my hair and when she gets bigger she hopes hers is brown and long so she can wear it in a ponytail like I do.

I'm tearing up writing this.

I am not what you would call classically pretty. I don't say that because I'm looking for the reassuring, "Oh, sure you are!" response. I am not an idiot. I know what I look like. I know what the average American views as attractive. While not entirely mutually exclusive, the overlap of the Venn diagram on those two things is fairly small. I do have some nice attributes - great legs, for example. I had a stylist tell me once that I had Lady Godiva hair. Ironic since my hair was once the bane of my existence. Though I often wished I had lived 100 years ago when fair skin was in since it's literally impossible for me to get a tan, thank goodness I was a teen in the 80's when big hair was popular. Until the late '90s when Matrix developed the Sleek Look line, there was no product I hadn't tried and failed to tame that craziness. Living in a drier climate in Colorado was the only cure I'd found. And then the 9th Wonder of the World was invented - the CHI. (Cue "Hallelujah" chorus!) But I digress...

When I started kindergarten, I was confident and outgoing. The first day of school, my dad tells me, I walked up to a group of 6th graders and said, "Hi! I'm Jennifer. What's your name?" Everything went well the first couple of years when looks weren't as important as personality. But as we got older, things changed. I was very skinny (my sister used to call me Ethiopia child) and a tomboy. I always had really short hair, so I looked like a boy. I even remember being in 1st or 2nd grade and the kids saying they thought I was a boy, and I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I settled the argument at recess by dropping my pants to prove I wasn't. I was also a quick learner. So at school, I was the nerdy, athletic girl who boys asked to be on their kickball team or copy off tests. Not the girl they thought was pretty. It didn't bother me when I was young, but I struggled with the transition to middle school because suddenly, I was expected to be more feminine and care about my looks (and secretly, I did), but I had no idea how to go about it. I watched made-for-TV movies like "Dance til Dawn" where the nerdy girl (in this case, Tracey Gold from "Growing Pains") takes off her glasses, lets down her hair and puts on makeup and is transformed into the hottest girl in school. I told myself that was me. I was afraid to do any of those things, though, because what if I after the transformation, I still wasn't beautiful?

High school started. Most of my friends were dating. Not me. I just knew I was going to become an old maid and die a virgin. I was 17 before I had my first kiss. I was head-over-heels for my boyfriend. He was handsome, and he made me feel beautiful. We dated for a year, and I really thought we would get married. I know that sounds naive, but dating for a year in high school is the equivalent to 5 years in the adult world. I really was in love with him, but I think part of it was fear that no one else would want me. I was desperate for us to stay together. It was an unhealthy relationship.

After we broke up, and I finally moved on, I dated other guys, of course. College was such a great growing experience for me. I developed more confidence. I had varying degrees of satisfaction with my looks at different times. I wanted to be comfortable in my own skin, but I rarely was. Once I started working, I gained and lost weight, which just contributed to my insecurities. As most women, I look in the mirror and mostly see the flaws. An ex once used a euphemism to tell me he wanted to date someone prettier by saying I was a hamburger, and he wanted a cheeseburger. I used to avoid looking in the mirror because I would just spend that time critiquing my features.

That's not to say I haven't had moments of feeling beautiful. External verification has always impacted my perception, of course, but though I'm not exactly pretty, I don't think I'm horrifically ugly either. I've come a long way from the awkward preteen in the photo above. I'd say I'm a 7. My confidence is not entirely dependent on my physical appearance. I have a lot of great qualities, and so I try to focus on them instead of bemoan my less than perfect features. Oddly enough, I'm really photogenic. I have tons of pictures that look average, but there are a few that make me stop and say "Wow. Not bad. Not bad at all! I look like an 8.5!" When I'm feeling good about my looks, that's the image I see in the mirror. It's just not often that that happens.

So I spent my 20's enjoying my single life. I've been blessed with incredible friends and family, so though I was sometimes lonely and wished for the day I'd find Mr. Right, I was happy.

And then I did find Mr. Right. We got married.

An example of a photogenic shot from our engagement session. God bless the CHI!
And then we had children.

Not only do you not have time to dwell on your physical imperfections as a mother, you rationalize some of them away. I'm overweight because I've birthed two babies. I don't have time to do anything more than throw my hair in a ponytail, and my make up goes unused for so long it's expired before I need it again. My clothes are frumpy because I refuse to buy new ones before I lose some weight. I'm so tired that when I look in the mirror in the morning as I brush my teeth, my eyes are only half-open so they aren't taking in all the flaws. I don't even think about my looks much anymore. Only when I'm getting ready to go somewhere nice like on a rare date, and I lament that I don't fit into my dress slacks anymore. And while I take the time to straighten my hair with that miraculous CHI, I see myself in the mirror in fragments - my broken nose, the chin hairs that have sprouted postpartum, the dark circles under my eyes. But I put on my makeup and do the best I can to look pretty, and try not to think about it. I'm happy with my life, and that's what's important. Or so I tell myself as I push the old feelings down deeper.

It works for the most part. Until our DD made that comment a few weeks ago.

Our daughter S is beautiful. I know all parents think their children are the most amazing beings on the planet, but truly, from an objective view, she really is pretty. She has gorgeous strawberry blonde hair, big blue eyes and a bright smile. She is also full of love and kindness, internal beauty as well as external.

Picture of S from November. Original photo courtesy of R. Peters Photography. Cropped by me.

So feeling inadequate in my skin, hearing my gorgeous little girl say she wished she looked like me broke my heart. "You are so beautiful! Why on earth would you want to look like me?" I wanted to scream. I tell her she's beautiful every day. But my parents told me that, too. And it only worked for so long before I stopped believing them. You reach a point where you realize that even though you're parents aren't lying, they don't have the same perspective as the outside world. I don't want her self-esteem to suffer like mine. I know that I can't shield her from the cruel words she's sure to encounter in the world. But I also know, that I must make sure to exude a positive attitude about my appearance or she will start to question her own.

And that, my friends, is why I must choose to OWN MY BEAUTY. I can no longer afford the luxury of self-pity or dissatisfaction. I need to make myself look in the mirror and focus on the good elements. The unique color of my eyes, blue but with a yellow ring around the pupil so they sometimes appear green. My smile of perfectly aligned teeth thanks to an amazing pediatric orthodontist. I want to see myself the way our daughter sees me, so she will see herself the way I see her.

There's a song that I hear often and try to internalize. And I want to be sure to share it with my girls because the message is so important. It's "More Beautiful You" by Johnny Diaz. Here is the first verse and chorus:

Little girl fourteen flipping through a magazine
Says she wants to look that way
But her hair isn’t straight her body isn’t fake
And she’s always felt overweight

Well little girl fourteen I wish that you could see
That beauty is within your heart
And you were made with such care your skin your body and your hair
Are perfect just the way they are

There could never be a more beautiful you
Don’t buy the lies disguises and hoops they make you jump through
You were made to fill a purpose that only you could do
So there could never be a more beautiful you

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Goals for the New Year

I was planning to do a post on New Year's, so Julia's WMW theme works out perfectly!

I don't make resolutions either. They've rarely stayed resolved. The only one I can think of that I've actually stuck with is reading a literary classic and a self-improvement/educational book for each trashy novel which I decided to do about 4 or 5 years ago. But I do make goals. Usually I wait to make them until the spring. Everyone gets tipsy and nostalgic around this time of year and thinks, man, another year's gone, and what do I have to show for it? Next year I'll do better. Next year, I'll lose 50 lbs. Yeah! And I'll go to church every week. Amen! And I'll stop being an aggressive driver. You know it! And I won't yell at my kids once! Uh-uh. And I'll write a blog piece that gets picked up by the media and turns me into superstar/millionaire! Woo hoo!!

But by the end of January, that new gym membership that made you miss a Sunday at church has lost it's luster, and you've only written about how you cut off the driver behind you while screaming at your children to stop fighting. And instead of trying again, you give up completely because you've already failed, and it hasn't even been a month yet.

My sister-in-law and I had a long talk about motivation and goals with respect to dieting and weight loss into the wee hours Monday night/Tuesday morning. She's a dietician and works for Skinny Gene, a non-profit dedicated to helping fight diabetes. The things we discussed really apply to all "resolutions" or goals. So I thought I'd share some tips in addition to my own dreams for 2011.

First, know thyself.
No matter what the experts say or the advertisements show, working out in the morning or buying a fitness video will not work for me. I am not a morning person. Even before I had kids and could work out in the morning (and did for awhile - 5:45am Jazzercise class), I just didn't get as good a workout. My body simply does not function at that time of day. And buying a video is a waste of money for me. I need external motivation. A workout partner, a class time, some kind of accountability.

Unfortunately for me, while evening is my optimum exercise window, since I don't get home from work until 6pm, by the time I feed the munchkins and put them to bed, do dishes and laundry and prep work for the next day, I have maybe 15 minutes to myself before bedtime. On a good day. Usually I miss my bedtime goal of 10:30pm by at least 30 minutes to an hour. Which sucks even more because at this stage in my childrens' lives, I'm usually awakened a minimum of once for about 15 minutes to a maximum of 3-4 times for up to 3 hours.

Last year I hit upon a brilliant solution - working out at the gym next door to my office over my lunch break. Perfect!!! But then I had Baby R, so when I went back to work, I pumped at lunch and/or took a short nap for the first 6 months. Then it was time for S to start preschool. Yay! Except her preschool is only half-days. So I use my lunch hour to pick her up and take her to daycare. Sigh.

So knowing all these things about myself, I have to avoid using them as excuses, and instead use them as a starting place. And I have to remember not to let other people tell me things like, "If you really wanted to, you could make time." Because everybody is different and no one can tell you what will work for you. They can make suggestions about things that worked for them, but only you know what will really, truly work for you.

Second, expect to get derailed.
A couple of months ago, I started Julia's pushup challenge, and I was so excited. It wasn't a major thing, but it was a little change, and I felt better about myself. And then at the end of October, we lost our daycare. And then the first week of November, I totaled our car. Life spiraled out of control. I couldn't focus on even that small of a task to do 20 pushups a day because I was consumed with bigger issues. November wrapped up and so did most of the drama. But suddenly, it was Christmastime, and I was completely unprepared and feeling behind the 8-ball. So I put the pushups aside for a little longer.  I got really frustrated because I felt like I couldn't workout at all. But I didn't give up. I decided to accept the derailment. It wasn't a stopping point. It was a pause. Most people look at "dieting" as a stage in life. "When I was 25 I did the Atkins diet." "When I was 28 I did the cabbage-soup diet." It has a starting point and an ending point. But monitoring diet and exercise are an ongoing thing. You make choices every day with respect to them. I'm not ready to say, "When I was 35, I did the pushup challenge." It's not over. It's just on hiatus. And don't wait for a special day to start up again - birthday, New Year's, the first day of of the new "Psych" season. Look at your day and see if you can get back on track. And if you can, great. If not, try again tomorrow. Just don't give up.

Third, make a realistic plan.
What I want my New Year's Resolution to be: Workout for an hour 3-4 times a week. If I make that goal, I will fail. I know this even before I start. Most people who set that kind of goal really know deep down that even though it looks good on paper, there's no way to make it match up with reality. But they do it because they think that's what they need to do. Actually, you need to decide what you really can see yourself doing if you're truly honest with yourself. When Julia started the pushup challenge, I realized that I don't need to do a full-blown workout right now. As much as I would like to, I just can't make it a priority. But I can find 5 minutes here and there throughout the day to do things. So I decided that's my first goal for this year. To get 5-minutes of exercise a day and build on it incrementally as I can. This is not a big discovery - trainers say it all the time. But sometimes it sounds hopeless. Five minutes a day won't make a difference, so why bother? You have to start somewhere. And by accomplishing a little goal, you'll give yourself more confidence and motivation to continue making small changes. And it really will make a difference. Think about how much environmentalists say a one degree increase in the average world temperature can change things.

That said, some goals need to be somewhat lofty. And that's great. But even lofty goals need steps to be taken to achieve them. So break it down into specifics. What exactly am I going to do "be a better mother"? Not lose my temper as often. Ok, great. How do I do that? Look at what are my triggers, and address them individually. 1. Sleep-deprivation (ok, not a lot I can do about that one, but I'll certainly try!). 2. Feeling unhealthy. When I can tell I'm getting impatient, I need to take those 5 minutes to get that mini-workout in. Make smarter food choices. If I'm grouchy because I'm hungry, eating a candy bar will just make it worse. Grab a fruit and some nuts instead. 3. Study my arsenal of child-rearing resources (I only have a dozen books on the subject) and select a tried-and-true method to use consistently. Or if that's failing, find a new one to utilize. 4. Take a moment to remove myself from the situation (when possible).  Basically, just break it down so it's a concrete goal with tangible steps to take.

Fourth, set up an accountability system.
Whether you get a workout partner, ask your spouse to check in on you, track your progress on a program online, involve your kids or blog about it, do something you know will help keep you going when the going gets tough.

Fifth, make some easy, fun goals! If you are a list person like I am, you like nothing better than to see items checked off that list. I will put my list of goals on the refrigerator and mark them off as I accomplish them. One year, "Get pregnant" was on the list. There's a fun one to shoot for. :) And it was also fun to cross it off.

Sixth, keep the goals fluid. Some goals need a time frame or they'll never be accomplished. But some are kind of "bucket list" goals that can be shifted from one year's list to the next. Like we want to get a new master bedroom set. We were saving up for it. And then I totaled the car. So I'm not eliminating it, just moving it to this year's list. And keep adding to the list throughout the year. Just because it's the middle of August, doesn't mean you can't decide you want to learn to crochet before Christmas. Put it on the list. And don't be afraid to re-evaluate the list. If you get through November and you've tried to start to read "Gone with the Wind" once every month, but just can't get past the first 50 pages, maybe it's just something you don't really need to do.

With those parameters in mind, here are my goals for my life at this time:

  • Find 5 minutes a day to exercise in some way.
  • Find a new church home.
  • Be a better mother: not lose my temper as often.
  • Complete the blog improvements I haven't gotten to yet from Kludgy Mom's Back 2 School/Back 2 Blogging workshop.
  • Create a new email account that is just for my blogging world.
  • Find a support group for people with loved ones who have dementia.
  • Take the girls on a train ride to St. Louis.
  • Get a master bedroom set.
  • Find a philanthropy the whole family can participate in.
  • Clean the ceiling fans in our house.
  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.
  • Make a concerted effort not to use the desk in the kitchen as a dumping grounds for crap because it makes DH crazy.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Who's On Your Laminated List?

So on Twitter today, we were talking about which celebrities we find attractive. DH and I always joke about who is on our "laminated list" because of the Friends episode where everyone chooses ten people they would be allowed to sleep with and it not be considered cheating. After much debate about whether or not to include Isabella Rossalini, Ross laminates his list, eliminating her because she's "international". At the end of the episode, she comes into the coffee shop and he's floored. He tells her she's on his list. She asks to see it. He finally has to admit she's not on it. She tells him that's too bad because he was on her random list of coffee shop guys to sleep with.
Though never put in writing, over the years my list has fluctuated with the times. And we would never really be allowed to sleep with anyone, but it's fun to talk about who we like. DH inevitably showed great skill with his retorts when I would tell him of my latest crush. Matthew McConaughey! He's gay. Jon Bon Jovi! He's gay. Whatev. I am clearly the more mature of us. He mentioned Natalie Portman. I said I thought she was very pretty. He mentioned Melissa Joan Hart. I... laughed. Anyway...

As of this moment in time, here are my Top 10 hunks:

1. Johnny Depp. I have always, always loved him. Ever since "21 Jump Street". There have been some less than great movies ("Crybaby" - really??), but some that I adore ("Benny & Joon", "Chocolat"). And he's just freakin' talented. The man played Jack the Ripper, and I still drool over him.

2. Jon Bon Jovi. First crush. Back when my walls were plastered with pictures of River Phoenix, Corey Haim and Kirk Cameron, the biggest poster was Jon. And he has just gotten hotter over the years. And Bon Jovi still rocks.

3. Shemar Moore. "Criminal Minds" hottie. 'Nuff said.

4. Harry Connick, Jr. That sweet southern accent melts my heart. And he's hilarious. Amazing in concert. Romantic. And he's not a bad actor. "Hope Floats" is a fun one.

5. Jason Statham. He's probably best known for "The Transporter" films, but he stole my heart in "Snatch" and "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels".

6. Will Smith. I thought he was cute when he and DJ Jazzy Jeff first hit the scene. My high school boyfriend kind of looked like him. (Which is weird, because he was white, but I'm not the only one who thought that.) But then he got more mature and exponentially hotter. One of my favorite movies of his is "Enemy of the State", and he's amazing in "The Pursuit of Happyness".

7. Edward Norton. Though not who I would consider traditionally hot, I love him because he's incredibly talented ("Primal Fear", "Fight Club") and funny. But if you never thought of him as sexy, check him out in "American History X". He is totally ripped in that movie, and it's thought-provoking, too.

8. Matthew Fox. I fell in love with him as big brother Charlie on "Party of Five". And then I got completely ensconced in the show "Lost". And via that show, I have him to thank for introducing me to #10.

9. Bono. He's so passionate and talented and cool. I have to say that though I was a U2 fan in the early 80's, I didn't start to have a crush on him until the early 90's.

10. Josh Holloway. Hello bad boy! Missing seeing him weekly already.

So how about you? Who's on your laminated list?

This if my first bloghop, so I'm hoping the linky works!

The Magic of Christmas

This year S really understood Christmas and Santa and all the implications therein. She made me move the flower arrangement out of the fireplace because it would be in his way when he came down the chimney. We went all out in replicating the happy memories of our childhood and creating some new traditions. My sister and brother-in-law ended up spending the night which was fun to have them there to help set up and see the fun in the morning. Growing up, there was always an apple, an orange and some nuts in the shell in the toe of our stocking. Then a couple of small presents like sticker sheets or mini books. And always a Lifesaver Storybook and a candy-filled candy cane. The presents from Santa were always wrapped in different wrapping paper than what our other presents were in. (Obviously, Santa doesn't have our wrapping paper.) And the big presents were always from him.

My DH made French toast for breakfast the last couple of years, so that's become a new tradition. We incorporated the Elf on the Shelf this year. It worked well initially, but sort of lost its luster toward the end. But she's 3. It's hard to be good for very long! Our new daycare provider made reindeer food with the kids (oatmeal and glitter). S decided to try some herself - eek! Luckily, I got it away from her before she ingested too much. So we had cookies and milk for Santa, and reindeer food and carrots for the reindeer. We read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas as well as the story of Jesus' birth. And after all the craziness and naptime, we made Jesus a birthday cake. We sang Happy Birthday to him after supper. Though I think next year, I'll just buy a small, pre-made cake or cupcakes from the store, because having an entire cake in the house after all the other Christmas goodies was just too much. I brought it in to work today.

The only thing we didn't do that I wanted to was go to church. The scheduling with family get togethers and naptime just didn't work with the girls this year. In a couple of years when they are older, it will be fine, and I can't wait for that. The candlelit Christmas Eve service at my old church was one of my favorite things about the season before I was married. And I felt like the emphasis this year was more on Santa and less on Jesus. I think that will also be rectified as S gets a little older and can better understand the importance of Jesus. Overall, it was a hectic, exhausting, wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Morning

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Be Careful What You Wish For

I often lament how much I wish I could be a full-time SAHM. There are lots of reasons why. I was blessed to have a mom who was able to stay home with us until we were in middle school. She took care of me when I was sick, taught me how to read before I started kindergarten (I didn't attend preschool), encouraged my imagination, redirected my energy into positive channels. I really feel like kids should be able to sleep in in the summer, play outside all day, and have the freedom to experience boredom.

That said, the decisions I've made in certain areas have required that I work full-time. I've made peace with that, for the most part, even though my feelings about it haven't changed. I have friends who say they could never stay home with their kids all day; it would make them crazy. I could never understand that. I get that you need a break. I get that you need adult interaction from time to time, and I can see how maybe a part-time job, mother's day out or volunteering would be something I'd want to be involved in if I was a SAHM. But if I were to prefer to spend 40 hours a week away from my kids, I would have to seriously wonder why I bothered to have them?

Weekends are difficult because I need to do things like laundry, shopping and cleaning, but I just want to spend time with my kids. I have let a lot of things slide around the house and tried not to feel too badly about it. For the most part, it's ok. I still have mom guilt, but my SAHM friends tell me that they have it, too - it seems to just a part of being a mom no matter what your full-time job is. It's impossible to cram a week's worth of "quality time" into a weekend though, so there are inevitable pitfalls such as overscheduling or frustration when plans don't go well or days when the kids are just whiny. It's never the perfect bonding time you hope for, but that's ok - that's real life.

But today, today was just awful. Today, for the first time, I thought maybe it's good that I'm not a SAHM; I just didn't feel like I was cut out for it. I was tired; S wet the bed in the middle of the night, so I was up with her for that, and then R woke up at 6am and wouldn't go back to bed for me; thankfully DH got up with her and got her a snack, but S heard the commotion, so I had to get her back to sleep again, too. Me being sleepy isn't all that unusual (if you'll notice, the subject with the third greatest number of labels on my blog is "sleeping"). But I was also incredibly cranky - I'm sure part of it is PMS, and part of it is PCC (Pre-Christmas Chaos). I actually made it to church today, so I would have thought I'd be in a really good mood (that's usually the effect it has on me). But S was pushing my buttons from the start - even in church.

It was like that at the grocery store, too. And when we got home for lunch. Every thing I told her, she did the opposite or ignored. I just didn't have the patience for it today. And I let my temper get the best of me 3 or 4 times. I had hoped to take a nap when the girls did and have the energy to do all I needed to do this afternoon, as well as be in a better mood. But S wouldn't nap. Nor would she do as I ask and play quietly in her room. So I did not sleep.

We had playdate dinner plans. I considered not going; DH also suggested I just skip it. But I thought maybe if I got us out of the house and around other people, I could shake off this funk. Plus, if the kids ran around and wore each other out, bedtime might be easier. Unfortunately, it was worse. S was too tired, and we were late getting home. So it was a nightmare. S threw a tantrum and woke Baby R up. I couldn't get her back to sleep. DH finally had better luck. I was so angry. I knew I was being unreasonable; S was just tired and needed extra TLC, but I couldn't give it to her. All I could think all day was maybe it's better that I'm not with them all day during the week. Awful!

So I'm heading to bed feeling spent and guilty and unproductive. Here's hoping to a better tomorrow.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Embarrassing Moments Throwdown

Hope you all enjoyed yesterday's guest post. Silly me, forgot to mention that I was on Taming Insanity's blog with my list of embarrassing moments. Check it:

Embarrassing Moments Tie Us Together

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Stupid is as KLZ Does

Ladies and gentlemen! Start your engines!

Oh, no wait. Sorry - wrong event.

Ladies and gentlemen! I am pleased to present to you the first-ever guest post on Midwest "Mom"ments. I apologize for the delay - I know I said it would be Tuesday, but frankly, well, I lied. Lesson learned; I will not be overly specific about such things in the future.

My friends, the witty and always entertaining, KLZ from Taming Insanity.


When I heard that Jenn was going to be guest posting on my site about her top ten most embarrassing moments, I thought, "I can top them." Now, I know Jenn mostly as a sweet lady I know from the Internet. But I suppose it's possible that she makes an ass of herself as frequently as I do. I'm not sure... she might be able to win at this but... my whole life is kind of a bad sitcom.

But then I freaked out.

Because I had a problem. I could not remember ten embarrassing moments. Which is embarrassing in and of itself.

Apparently, when you make a jerk of yourself as frequently as I do, the moments kind of blur together.

So, without further ado, I present to you KLZ's list of embarrassing stuff.

1) My inner nerd is loathe to admit this but: I cannot spell the word embarrassing correctly. It's a real problem when I'm trying to convey my feelings - especially since embarrassed is a thing I feel frequently. Please excuse the typos in this post.

2) I have hit parked cars on 3 separate occasions. (Occassions is another word I can't spell.) That pales in comparison to when I ran my step mother-in-law's car into her garage. On my first wedding anniversary. Although I still maintain it was her fault, it led to an awkward morning.

3) After running my step mother-in-law's car into her garage and sobbing all morning, I celebrated my first anniversary by drinking heavily. I felt this would up my "Fun" quotient from sobbing mess to happily devoted wife. When I stumbled down some stairs, I realized I'd calculated that fun quotient incorrectly.

I'm honestly surprised my husband stuck around after that fun-filled first anniversary.

4) I played water polo in high school. I once had to pull myself out of the game because I'd broken my ankle. The awful part is I broke this ankle when I jumped into the pool, and plummeted through ten feet of water to slam into the bottom of the pool. No one would believe this had happened because it was that ridiculous. In fact, my coach was so mad at me for not playing that she refused to get me ice. Begging for ice for an appendage you hurt in a freak accident is... embarrassing.

5) When I was pregnant I was talking to my husband and took one small step to the side. At which point I involuntarily farted. I was as surprised as he was.

6) In high school I was also on the diving team. I'm not sure why because it's a well documented fact that I'm klutzy. At one point I was bouncing on the board (which is a normal warm up move) and my knees buckled under me. I fell onto my butt on a fiber glass board. My suit ripped as did the skin on my tush. My male coach has to spend 15 minutes cleaning the blood off my butt as well as my butt blood of the board.

Admittedly he was a lot more patient with this than when I stopped paying attention and walked off the side of the board.

Understandably, my parents feared diving season starting. They were always worried that DCFS would show up on our doorstep as I looked like the poster child for abuse.

I was pretty much just worried about saving my butt.

7) While getting ready for a dance at my date's house, my father instructed me not to let the car break down on the side of the road, conveniently leading to necking. Not wanting my father to think I had a nefarious hook up strategy I shouted for all to hear "Don't worry, I've got gas!"

A sentence which made my father's worries a moot point.

At the moment, that's all I can recall. Seven not-so-lucky moments.

Although I'm sure the return to the playground, as a mom this time, will lead me to many more moments to add to this list.

Hopefully they won't involve my rear end.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I Am Not A Baby!

I think when we were watching S grow, we noticed the nuances because all our attention was focused on her. With Baby R, our time and attention are divided, and so while I noted that she's started shaking her head "no", fully walking, saying new words like "sock" and "kitty", and freaking out when she saw Santa, I silently checked those off in my head without relishing each moment. And in the last week, it's as if she's been trying to get my attention to say, "I am not a baby anymore! I'm a toddler, dang it!" She's hit the independent stage where she wants to do it all herself. She wants to purely self-feed - "I don't need or want your help, Mommy." She fights being buckled into her car seat; she asserts herself when playing with toys instead of letting Sissy take them away without a fight. I am proud of her and excited to see this shift, but I'm also sad to see the baby-stage end.

At Bunko last night, a friend brought her 3.5 week old baby girl. So precious. So tiny. So... quiet. It was nice snuggling with her and soaking in her baby-ness, but I was surprised that I didn't feel the usual urge to have another that tends to happen when I'm around newborns. We are still debating having a third baby. I was really thinking we would in a year or two. But after last night, I felt content with having two. And I don't want a third to feel even more neglected - I struggle with splitting my attention between two as it is. The possibility of three is still on the table, but I would be happy if things stayed as they are, too.

Especially when I think about how our nights have been the last week. Ugh! Baby R is having a growth spurt. Sunday she ate every hour. And not just a tiny snack. An entire banana. A whole serving of yogurt. A full string cheese. Every hour! She would toddle over to the refrigerator and pull on the handles. She inevitably woke up in the middle of the night. She pointed to her door. I knew she was hungry. I also knew she wanted yogurt. I took her downstairs to the kitchen, put her in her highchair, and got a container out of the fridge. I even gave her her own spoon and some Cheerios on the tray to distract her while I fed her. I loaded the baby spoon, and directed it toward her mouth, hopeful that she was tired enough to not fight it. Nope. She wanted to feed herself. She squealed, turned her head and flapped her little arms in frustration. I retracted the spoon. Spoke to her soothingly, and tried again. Same reaction.

I'm all for letting toddlers learn to self-feed. The sooner, the better. But we just started when she turned 1 a month ago. She's at the point that she can dip the spoon in yogurt and lick it off. But she doesn't get much, so she usually puts her whole hand in and sucks the yogurt off. Inevitably, it drips down to her shirt (the bib went by the wayside a long time ago). Then at some point she manages to get it in her hair. So my approach is to strip her down and let her feed herself half-naked before bath time.  It works great for dinner. Not so much in the middle of the night.

So I tried one more time. Then I told her she could either let me feed her, or she could go back to bed. So back to bed she went, screaming. I told DH what had happened and if he wanted to try in a few minutes, he could. After about 10 minutes of her not settling down, he took her back downstairs. I heard the screams and smiled wryly to myself. So back to her crib she went. I knew it was for her own good, and she would be fine, but it still breaks my heart to hear my babies cry. So here's my Motherhood Confession for WMW: I had to head downstairs and turn on the TV for an hour til she was sound asleep. I wussed out. I left my DH upstairs to listen to her scream and make sure she didn't really need our help (like getting an appendage stuck in the crib bars). I am a wimpy mean mommy; I enforce the rule, then run away.  But I say, whatever it takes to make it happen. Last night. No middle of the night feeding. First night I can remember when I slept UNINTERRUPTED ALL NIGHT. If only I hadn't had a cough that woke me half a dozen times. Sigh.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Festive Popcorn Mix

I don't remember who gave me this recipe, but it's great for taking to potlucks because it makes a lot.

Popcorn Mix
2 pkgs microwave popcorn (I use plain if I can find it, or just light salt/butter)
5 cups Rice Krispies
1 large bag of M&Ms
2 cups lightly salted peanuts
1 pkg almond bark
1 pkg butterscotch chips

Pop popcorn. (Discard as many unpopped kernels as possible.) Melt almond bark in large stock pot. Stir in popcorn, then Rice Krispies, then peanuts. Add M&Ms and butterscotch chips last so they don't completely melt.

It's good all-year round, but here are a few suggestions to make it festive for Christmas:
- Use red & green M&Ms
- Use red and green Rice Krispies
- Portion the mix into Christmas-patterned Dixie cups

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Let It Snow!

We got our first snow last night. It was bitter cold and really windy. It's hard to say how much snow we actually got because the wind just blew it all away. Based on the drifts and the low spots, I'd guess 2-3 inches. S wanted to play outside so badly today, but the windchill was -15 or something. On the radio they were talking about how the Chiefs played in San Diego today and it was supposed to be around 85. That means it was a 100 degree difference. Crazy!

I was supposed to do a 5k today (indoors!) with some friends. We met at my house to carpool. I said my goodbyes to the fam, and went out the door and down the walk. At the driveway, my foot slid in the snow and went off into the grass, rolling my right ankle (the one that has the old injury). Oh my gosh it hurt. I was only able not to scream/cry because my friends were watching. I gingerly put some weight on it but it was excruciating. So I had to bail on the race. Felt a little silly. But it was totally me.

The girls are so cute. Baby R is walking about 75% of the time and must be having a growth spurt because she is hungry...all ...the ...time. Today she literally ate every hour. I think that's the big reason she's been getting up in the middle of the night this week. I finally remembered that S went through a stage like that, too, where I had to feed her yogurt in the middle of the night. Frustrating, but if that's really all it is, I'm hoping we can just get her fed and back to sleep in 30 minutes - not spending 2 hours trying to figure out what's wrong.

Last night I met some friends for drinks to celebrate our birthdays. One of my friends and I have the exact same birthdate. Lots of people share the same birthday, but I don't know many people who know another person with their birthdate. I know three other people. And we were born on Friday, the 13th, which makes it even stranger. Anyway, we had a great time hanging out.

I'm taking tomorrow off work which will be somewhat less productive than I'd hoped since I am still struggling to walk. But I should be able to get a couple of things done, and enjoy a bday lunch with some friends. Looking forward to Tuesday when KLZ and I do our blog swap!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Sinful Life

Vivobello tweeted that she lost a bunch of followers after writing this post about being harassed by strangers who thought she was a lesbian. I decided to take my comment on her blog and turn it into my own post because I really had more to say about it than was appropriate for that space.

I don’t often address this topic because for me, what it all comes down to is this: it’s really not my place to judge. Oh, I'm judgmental. I like to think that I'm not, but then I hear myself say or think things, and I know that I am. What I mean is that when The Day of Judgment arrives, I will not be the one who is doing the judging, so what difference does it make what I think? That said, here’s what I believe.

I believe that homosexuality is a sin. Yep, I said it. The 5 followers I have will now be un-following me (gasp!). Prepare yourself; there's more. I also believe gluttony is a sin. And sloth. (I’m a good 50 lbs overweight.) I believe taking the name of God in vain is a sin. (Oops.) I am not perfect. I commit LOTS of sins. I try not to and wish I didn’t, but it doesn’t matter what I do, I will always be a sinner. It’s only through the blood of Jesus that my sins are washed away. If someone walked up to me and said, "Oh my God, you're fat! You're going to hell, Lardass!", I would be quite shocked. I would be shaken and reply with witty repartee of some sort. Perhaps, "Oh yeah? So are you, you Taker-of-the-Lord's-Name-in-Vain-er, you!" (stick out tongue) Unlikely to happen right? So why do people think it's ok to say that kind of thing to people who are gay or lesbian? I have no idea. Fred Phelps, I'm talking to you.

Because I believe that it's a sin, I do believe it's something that is innate. I believe we are all born with the tendency to commit every sin - each of us just have ones that we find more tempting than others. Some people are just better at hiding their vices. Or are challenged with ones that are considered to be more acceptable for the mainstream. You know, like greed.

I know there are a lot of people who have experimented with same-sex acts. It's practically expected according to some college-experience movies. It's never been an area of interest for me, personally. Does that mean I don't think it's a real temptation? No. I just have my own demons to fight. Am I just better at winning the battles because I appear to be "normal"? No. I lose. A lot. And when I win? It's rarely due to me. It's all God-given strength.

My problem with standing up for gay rights isn’t that I don’t think everyone deserves equal rights, it’s that by bringing a sin into the equation, it skews the issue. If someone were to commit adultery, then want the world to be on their side because they believe humans aren't wired to be monogamous, people would... well, actually, some people probably would support that. I'm not saying homosexuals shouldn't receive the same legal rights with respect to property ownership and hospital visitation that heterosexual couples have. The right to be married, though... For me, marriage is a more complicated matter. I do believe marriage should be reserved for one man and one woman. Marriage is a religious AND civic act. So I also think that there should be some way for gay couples to achieve the social status/legal rights that go along with marriage. I don't have all the answers. I just know that I don't feel comfortable calling it "marriage" if it's not heterosexual. Doing so feels to me like it's condoning the sinful act. Although I suppose that's what we do when we say someone who is greedy is "acquisitive".

I am not homophobic. I have friends who are gay. I L-O-V-E the show "Modern Family" which depicts a gay couple. I find it hypocritical to think it’s ok to be a bigot when one is also a sinner (and we all are). My job is not to tell homosexuals they are going to hell for being gay. My job is to be the best Christian I can be by sharing God’s love and admit that I’m not perfect, and that I, too, need forgiveness for my sins.  I kind of suck at that job to be honest. But I want to be better at it.

The struggle is that part of asking for forgiveness is repentance. According to Webster, to repent is "to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one's life" or "to feel regret or contrition." I think that's a big reason why mainstreamers feel like they are less sinful than homosexuals. If a gay couple decides to get married, clearly there is no repentance involved. The mainstreamers can go to church and ask God to forgive them for skimming a little money from the till, and promise they won't do it again. Because no one else has to know. Then when they do it again, clearly NOT having turned from this sin, they'll ask for forgiveness again. There's no contrition. It's not really legitimate. But they convince themselves they've been forgiven because they asked. And again, no one else has to know. Kind of hard for no one else to know when you and your partner have to go public about your relationship since no one is buying that you're "just roommates". Some sins are easier to hide than others. But God knows your heart, and you can't hide anything from Him.

So the lesson for today, dear readers, isn't tolerance, it's acceptance. Accept that all of us are different. All of us are flawed. And none of us are worthy of heaven of our own accord. "Judge not, lest ye be judged." Focus on fixing your own flaws, not condemning others for theirs.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Has It Been A Week Already?

Sheesh! I don't even have any dramatic news to report. I should really be more thoughtful of my readers as I'm sure an extended absence leaves you wondering what horrifying event I've experienced as of late.

Thankfully, I can report - none. I've just been busy with work. (I know, can you believe I'm actually needing to do work at my job instead of type posts? To be fair, I write them on my lunch break or when I'm waiting for my computer to finish doing something, but still, work? Really?) And Tweeting too much. I was so afraid of Twitter, and Julia at Work, Wife, Mom...Life! got me over it, and now - it's as bad as my initial Facebook addiction. And I'm hoping it will slow to that level of obsession soon, because I'm really not getting anything productive done having Tweetdeck running all day. But it does make the time go by quickly!

Anyway, I have some exciting news. Though I've been blogging for a few years, I hadn't really entered the blogosphere per se until this fall when I started Kludgy Mom's Back 2 School/Back 2 Blogging and discovered that there are people on the other side of these posts. It's like the newspaper's editor but so much more personal and the contact is real and your letter isn't stuck in an inbox with 500 other letters that will get previewed and pitched before even making it to the actual editor's desk.

Point being, once I swallowed the red pill, I found a whole new world. And in this world, I've met and most recently bonded with KLZ from Taming Insanity. We share a love of "How I Met Your Mother" and "Austin Powers," and though we disagree on the importance of "War Games" in Matthew Broderick's filmography and whether or not eggnog is a good holiday tradition, we've helped each other out in contests and #FF. So when KLZ asked if I wanted to do a blog swap, I was honored. Stay tuned - I'll be having my first ever guest poster here at Midwest "Mom"ments in the next week.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Today, Julia was kind enough to give us run of the roost to write about anything for WMW due to technical difficulties. (Poor thing - I hope your computer woes are resolved soon!) And my post yesterday got me to thinking about the great dates DH and I had when we were courting. (Yeah, I know it wasn't courting in the official sense of the word, but it sounds cool, and clearly I'm old, so this is an appropriate turn of phrase.) And I realized another place we went has gone the way of the dodo bird, so I thought I'd tell a few of our date stories.

First, what I consider to be our most romantic date. DH and I met through a mutual friend, and at the time, she and DH's friend were kind of interested in each other. So the boys planned a double date. First, we went to a neighborhood ice skating rink. This is where my sister and I took lessons as children. My sister even performed in a recital. It's where we went for birthday parties in winter. Many fond memories from there. And a few years ago, it closed down. But I digress....

At one point during our skate time, the boys went to get hot chocolate for us, and we girls continued around the rink, chatting, of course, about the boys. Then they came back and my friend went to sit down while I kept going. DH sidled up to me (as well as sidling can be done on ice skates), and said he saw a pretty girl out on the ice so he wanted to come say hello. Charming! Unfortunately, I don't do well with compliments. "Oh, really?" I replied. "Where is she?" Can you just hear the brakes screeching on the romanticism of the moment?

Not to be discouraged, when we left the ice rink, we stopped at the store on the way back to DH's parents' house. (Oh yeah, that's right. His parents' house. It was a LONG time ago.) When the boys came back to the car, DH presented me with a rose, and they'd rented "The Cutting Edge". Yes, a THEMED date night, people. Do I have a sweet hubby or what? (For those of you scrambling to get to IMDB for a synopsis, "The Cutting Edge" is about a hockey player who gets injured so becomes a figure skating partner to a spoiled girl, and of course, their fiery personalities are all wrong for each other, until they realize they are really just right. Hmm, sounds familiar...sigh...)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

How Old Do You Feel?

Leslie Nielsen passed away last weekend. It seems like the past couple of years there have been a lot of famous deaths that resonated with me. I feel like my parents when I was a kid and they'd talk about a celebrity being gone who I'd never heard of. Lately there are more and more things about me that are reflective of my parents, or in other words, make me feel old. I'd be worried about offending them but while they know I have a blog, I don't think they understand what that means, so I have no fears of them reading this. (Just in case, though, love you guys!)

Things That Make Me Feel Old
  • Going to a concert and making sure I get tickets for SEATS.
  • Going to a concert and leaving early because it's so loud my ears hurt.
  • Deciding NOT to go to a concert because I can't sit. And I think it will be too loud.

  • Hearing Young MC rap about movie tickets costing $5.
  • Talking about when gas was only $1/gallon.

  • Not knowing what Silly Bandz were until September - after they were already banned from schools.
  • I have no idea why kids sing "cha cha cha" in the middle of "Happy Birthday" now?

  • Martha Plimpton playing a GRANDMOTHER on TV.
  • I always think of my parents as being 40. I'M closer to 40 than my parents are.
  • I feel about Lady Gaga the way my parents felt about Madonna.

  • Watching Doogie Howser portray a womanizer.
  • I was talking to a friend about "Stand by Me". She'd never seen it. (Blasphemy! Best. Movie. Ever.) So I told her I owned it and she could borrow it. Then I realized it's on VHS.
  • Watch Eddie Murphy's "Raw". It's not nearly as offensive as you remember it being when it was first released.
  • The Pizza Hut where DH and I had our first date almost 17 years ago closed before we even got married.

  • The TGIFriday's where we had a memorable date (that's for another post!) closed last week. Apparently all the Friday's in town have shut down.
  • The country club where we had our rehearsal dinner burned down yesterday.
  • When DH and I have the choice between sex and sleep, the decision rate is about 50/50.
  • A night when I can stay in and snuggle on the couch with DH and catch up on our DVR that's full of NCIS, Criminal Minds, How I Met Your Mother and Modern Family sounds so much more appealing than a night out on the town.
  • I told a friend that I miss going out dancing. She said we should have a girls' night and go. I told her I didn't say I wanted to go. Just that I miss going. How LAME!!

So many others, but that's enough for today. It's 5:15pm. Past my dinner time. Ready for bed.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Denouement (I Hope)

Since I left off with our car situation before Baby R's bday, I thought I should wrap that all up since I know you're all dying to know how it ended. (Warning: This post is long and boring, but I know I left it as such an enticing cliffhanger before that you all are compelled to keep reading even with that disclaimer.)

We found a van on Carmax in Wichita and they were going to bring it to Kansas City for us for free. We went and test drove a different one that was the same model before it arrived to make sure they weren't wasting their time sending it. While we were waiting for it to arrive, a friend of mine who had started working at a car dealership let me know he had a van available, and he could get me his discount so even though it was listed at close to $19K, he could probably get it for the $15K max I told him we were looking for. DH and I met him that Friday over our lunch breaks and as soon as we saw it, we knew there was no way we could get it for that price. It was way too nice. But I took it on an extended test drive and dropped it off at our mechanic's to check it out just in case.

Side note: Remember how I didn't have my insurance card the day of the accident so I had 10 days to show proof of insurance and they'd eliminate the $200 ticket? Well, on day 6, I looked up the phone number to the clerk's office at work since I'd left my ticket at home so I could find out where I needed to go to show my insurance card. The clerk said she didn't even have it in her system yet, and they always say 10 days, but they rarely even have the ticket processed by then and to call back next week. Ok. So Thursday, I got to thinking and realized that when I looked it up online, I found the COUNTY traffic clerk's phone number. Not the CITY one. The municipal court was where my ticket said I had to show up. Awesome. Thursday was day 10. Thursday was also Veteran's Day so the government offices were closed. OMG if I end up having to shell out $200 because I was a super flake and called the wrong clerk's office on top of everything else, my husband may leave me. At the suggestion of co-workers that the clerk might have more pity for me in person than anonymously on the phone, I decided to stop by Friday.

So back to the vans. Thursday was also the day that the Carmax van arrived from Wichita. DH went to test drive it after work while I stayed home with the kiddos, and we planned for me to test drive it after work Friday since we were already going to the other car dealership over lunch. I left work early so I could pick up the van from the mechanic (who gave it a stellar review, BTW) and stop by the courthouse. Of course, it started raining, so traffic was terrible. Then I went across the street to the jail instead of to the clerk's office, so I literally ran through pouring rain to make it before 5:00pm. Dripping wet, I related my tale. Thankfully the clerk had pity on me and let me show proof of insurance even though A) I was a day late, and B) I was a flake and called the wrong clerk's office, and C) I didn't even have the ticket with me, because, again, I had left it at home (I'm like a Grands biscuit by this point, extra-flaky).  I was also able to not have to go to court now, so I just paid my fine then as well. Whew! One more thing checked off the list.

So now I had to take the van back across town during a deluge-ridden rush hour. It took me an hour and 15 minutes to make the 45 minute drive. I dropped it off, spent 30 minutes with them trying to tell me that $150 payments over 66 months is totally doable (even though no matter how you slice it, it's still $3K over what our max price was). Finally left there and stopped by the house for 10 minutes to tell the girls goodnight before heading to Carmax to do the test drive and basically sign the paperwork.

I got to Carmax and the woman who had been helping us came out to meet me and then offered to pull the van around so I wouldn't have to walk out in the rain. I waited and waited. And waited. Finally, I saw her walking back through the showroom. I met her halfway. She couldn't find the van on the lot, so she was going to pull up the information on the computer. Someone else bought it in the three hours I had been late getting there because I was returning the other van. I actually laughed on the drive home. This is seriously my life. I know it's nothing tragic, it's just a ridiculous string of bad luck I've had lately. I've always been unlucky, but this month takes the cake.

Speaking of cake, Saturday was Baby R's 1st bday and party - awwww! Here's a pic of her cake which turned out fantastic if I do say so myself. I'm not very skilled in the cake decorating department, but I was quite pleased with this. (The cupcake just happened to be on the plate when I took the pic, so just pretend it's a silo.) Sunday she took her first steps! So amid the frustration, we found joy. And I was really needing to find it, let me tell you! Things were starting to look up. All I had left to do was resolve the title situation and find a new car and we could finally put this whole wreck behind us.

Monday I went to the tag office and thanks to the new supercool wave of technology that has FINALLY reached the government offices, I can sign up online and they will text me when there's about 15 minutes until my turn so I don't have to stand in line for an hour and a half. And I had already downloaded my form to request a copy of my lost title and filled it out so my turn would go quickly.

When I got there I explained to the woman that I had my lien release, but couldn't find my title. She said that's because I never had my title; it was still in Topeka. Ah, well that made me feel better to know I'd never lost it! So now I had to contact the state office and they would be able to send it to me. Tuesday I called, but those lucky government employees close up shop at 4:00pm so I'd just missed them. I tried again on Wednesday, and she said I just needed to go to my local tag office and they could issue an e-lien release. "But I was just there, and she told me to contact you? Don't I need to give the lien release I have to you?"

"Yes, well you can just come to Topeka and do it that way."

Uh, yeah, because I have 3 hours out of my work day to do that. "Well, can I just mail it?"

"Sure, but it will take six weeks to get the title that way. If you do an e-lien release you can have it in a week."

Why didn't the woman at the tag office tell me that the first time? Grrr....

By then it was the end of the day so I couldn't make it there in time, and Thursday was going to test drive another van DH had found, and I needed to leave early since they closed at 6pm. So the title resolution was postponed.

Thursday I picked up the van after work for another extended test drive so I could have our mechanic check this one out Friday. Friday morning, I went to get the girls loaded up and head out, but I couldn't find the key to the van. DH had driven to the store Thursday night. Please don't tell me....

I called him and yes, he had the key with him. For the first time in weeks, we were ready early. I was going to be on time to work! And now I would be lucky to get there by 10am. Sigh. But at least I got some dishes done while I was waiting patiently for DH.

That afternoon, the van got a clean bill of health, so we made our way to the dealership to sign the papers after work - WOO HOO!!!

What a gleeful experience we had in that cashier's office. The girls were playing contentedly - Baby R even walked 5 or 6 steps to the doorway! Oh, happy day! We left and went our separate ways so I could get the girls something for dinner and meet DH back at the house. I got them settled and hit the highway at bedtime thinking they might drift off to sleep. Ha! I knew that wouldn't really happen, but it was a peaceful journey, and I felt more relaxed than I had in weeks.

Until we'd gone about five miles. Suddenly there was something in the middle of the road. A crate? A table? I didn't see it early enough to swerve (which is probably good since being in a top-heavy van, swerving is not very safe). However, that meant that I hit said crate/table/someone's garbage in the middle of the road that they didn't bother to come back for. NOOOOOO!!! My new (to me) van had a huge hole ripped in the front bumper. LESS THAN 20 MINUTES AFTER I BOUGHT IT, PEOPLE!!!! I. Was. So. Angry.

Suffice it to say, so was DH. I couldn't talk about it, I was so angry. (And clearly, I'm one who talks.) Crying tears of frustration and anger, I was physically sick to my stomach I was so upset. I felt so depressed, I just wanted to go to bed. I decided to watch some TV first thinking a sitcom might break me out of my funk. Nope. Went to bed on time, got a decent night's sleep. Still depressed the next day.

Sunday we had family pictures to wrap up Baby R's first year series, so I managed to put on a happy face. And I was glad to see the photographer who is a friend of mine. By the end of the weekend, I was in a slightly better mood. I was far from thrilled Monday morning to have to explain to my co-workers why my nice new van had a broken bumper, though. Found out yesterday it will cost around $750 to fix it.

I feel like this phase of my life will never end. I think it is truly the worst month of my life. Not the worst day, by far. Not the worst week even. But I don't think I can recall a continuous month-long downward spiral like this. And as I mentioned before, I know it's not the end of the world. I know things could be much worse. But I am really hoping that Thanksgiving is the turnaround point!

Monday, November 22, 2010

What Do You Do When You Can't Find Reasons to Give Thanks?

I can't believe Thanksgiving is this week. I'm usually so excited. I love Thanksgiving. As I've mentioned before, it's one of my favorite holidays, second only to Christmas. But things have not been going too well for me lately. And to be honest, it's taking every bit of my optimistic personality to keep finding that silver lining.

In the last month we had to give up our beloved part-time, in-home childcare, followed an hour later by our other part-time care provider, my mother, leaving us childcare-less. Two weeks ago I totaled my car. To say our 3-year-old's world has been rocked is a huge understatement. She's a child who craves stability and routine. She doesn't have either of those in her life right now. She's having outbursts, separation anxiety, nightmares. I don't feel like my husband has been as supportive as I need him to be, so we aren't on the best of terms. My health insurance is changing at work (new individual deductible is $2,500 - awesome!). The girls have had lingering coughs for 4 weeks, and Baby R is teething and has a diaper rash to boot. And this morning I woke up with a cold. Not that that is such a big deal. It just seems like as soon as I get my head above water, something beats me back down again. And it may just be a 5 lb. rock instead of a cement block, but at this point, I'm so exhausted that it feels like a pebble could sink me.

The most frustrating thing is that I feel like I had finally gotten my ducks in a row trying to do things to improve my family's life, but these stumbling blocks have forced me to put them on the back burner. For example, eating healthier. I decided to make as much homemade food as I can, changing things at a gradual pace. I started making applesauce. And instead of buying snacks at the store, making cookies or sweet breads for treats every week (instead of every once in awhile). I bought the ingredients for homemade granola bars and found a recipe for yogurt. I'm planning to ask for a breadmaker for Christmas. But juggling childcare every day means spending my evening trying to figure out where to take the kids in the morning and what supplies to pack and how many extra outfits to take, not to mention assuaging fears and providing extra snuggles. Trying out new recipes has been put on the back burner.

I know I should be thankful for my health, my job, the roof over our heads, the food on the table, the clothes on our backs. And I am. I hear horror stories every day about people who have hit the end of unemployment benefits and had to move into their car, or been diagnosed with cancer, or lost a loved one. I'm not in any way trying to say that my inconveniences compare with the hardships they have to face. But the thing is, I'm a cup-is-half-full kind of gal, though I do my fair share of grumbling, and while I know things could be so much worse, they sure could be a heckavu lot  better.

So this year, the thing I'm most thankful for is Thanksgiving itself. Because I'm not able to remind myself of the things I should be thankful for on a daily basis right now. I need that big holiday looming large to keep me in check. And hopefully by the time it gets here Thursday, I'll be back to my usual chin-up self. But if not, I know that November 25th can keep it up for me.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Happy First Birthday, Baby R

Sweet, precious baby girl. When you joined our family one year ago, we were so thankful. You've been such a joy to us. I know it seems like sometimes we don't notice you (like when you made it halfway up the stairs the other day before I saw you and held my breath so I wouldn't startle you and make you tumble back down them). And I know sometimes you have to fight for attention. (You've convinced me that Aunt J was right; the youngest totally gets the shaft.) But we do notice you and love you and still find all your growth and advances to be as miraculous as if we'd never seen them before.  And we haven't. Not with you. You are your own special, unique person. We are enjoying watching your personality develop. And even though big sister sometimes smothers you, try not to be too upset; she just loves you so much.

Some things you've been doing recently include:
"Talking" on the phone. You hold it up to the back of your neck, so it's nowhere near your ear or mouth. Adorable.

Learning about Mickey Mouse. I sing the old Mickey Mouse Club theme song when I change your diaper because Huggies uses Mickey for their designs. Sissy will sometimes sing the new Mickey Mouse Clubhouse song, so you aren't being raised in the dark ages. Also, since your Uncle M & and Aunt R got you a framed Disney stock certificate, you like to point at all the characters on it, so you are becoming familiar with all of them.

You FINALLY cut your top two front teeth. You have been the toothless wonder! Until this week, you only had your bottom two front teeth. Apparently you only want to grow them in pairs.

You are getting so good at walking with assistance. Your favorite way to do that is to push the step stool Sissy uses in the kitchen. You tend to veer to one side, but as long as I can put you back on a straight path, you're all set.

Papa Duncanson is amazed at how well you entertain yourself. You'll work your way around the toys in the room, perfectly content to play on your own for half an hour or so at a time.

You love to play in the bath water. You have a fit when I take you out of the tub.

Though you're much more patient than I would be, you've started asserting your displeasure when Sissy smothers you a bit. But you love playing with her - especially when she pushes you on your swing. (She even tries to give you an "underdog" like I do to her which is so stinkin' cute.) You've seen too many of her tantrums which you've decided to replicate. Sigh. But in general, you are a pretty happy, laid back baby!

A couple of days ago, Daddy was winking at you, so you looked at him and concentrated really hard, and then gently blinked your eyes. Melted our hearts!

You babble a fair amount, but most of it sounds the same - Dada, dah (for dog), da (for that). You sometimes say Mama, but you don't actually call me that. The other day we were driving and Sissy said, "There's Costco!", and I swear you said cah-co.

My secret weapon when you are fussy is to pull out my iTouch and let you play Peekaboo Barn.

But our favorite thing you do right now is give hugs. You wrap your little arms around me and kick your little legs happily, and then you pat my back with a hearty batch of whacks. Love you, little snugglebug!!! Happy 1st Birthday!

Guest Post!

Hey everyone! I have the honor, nay the privilege, of being featured as a guest blogger at Kludgy Mom today. I'm very excited to be included in a series of posts about Thanksgiving written by an amazing group. Check it out: The Forgotten Holiday.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

If These Walls Had Ears: Some Things You May Have Heard Around Our House Lately

I really need to have a video recording of some of these for the full impact, but use your imaginations. Spoken by our 3 YO daughter:

  • Category 1 - Funny because what 3 year old says these words?

This zipper is being stubborn.

S: Is this banana bread cool yet?
Me: Yep.
S: Hallelujah!

(Regarding the alphabet magnets that have fallen under the refrigerator and her inability to move it by herself.) We need a bunch of people to to move the fridge. Unfortunately, it's stuck there. (Also funny because she had good problem solving by thinking of getting more people to help.)

I really love this banana bread. (I found this amusing because she had just been saying, "Mommy, I really love you." SOOO melting my heart. Though I questioned her sincerity when that was followed with "I really love this banana bread" spoken with the same earnestness.)

  • Category 2 - Visually hilarious, mildly amusing in writing
There is a big... HUGE... MONSTER fly that just flew into our house. (Spoken with growing intensity and a deeper voice.)

I'm going to say "Hi" to E bcause she's my friend. (E is her aunt - adorable that she referred to her as her friend.)

At my softball game, S was incredibly animated and cheering so loudly I could hear her in right field. (Yes, that's how awesome I am.) Then when one of the guys on my team was up to bat, she was standing behind the backstop yelling, "1...2...3...Aw, man!" when he wouldn't swing. She will kick butt at "Swing batter" when we teach it to her someday.

What up, G. (Spoken in as deep a voice as she can. I must confess, I said it first and she was mimicking me, but it's WAY funnier when she says it.)

Fantastic! (with a triumphantly raised fist)

  • Category 3 - Funny because she's incorrectly repeating something someone said

Whoopsie, Spaghetti-O.

S: Sometimes we say sonofapit. (I debated if I should address this since it wasn't technically bad, but decided I should to be on the safe side in case she accidentally said it correctly at a later time.)
Me: Um, no. No, we don't.
S: Yeah, we do. Sometimes.
Me: Well, maybe sometimes people do, but we don't say it.

Other amusing anecdotes about our 3 YO.

I picked S up a little early from preschool to get a haircut before our big family photo a few weeks ago. As we walked away down the sidewalk, she turned back and yelled at the door, "I'm getting my hair cut guys! I'll be back later!" This was funny because 1) she's pretty quiet at school; and 2) none of the kids were paying attention and the door was shut so they couldn't hear her anyway.

Before Halloween, S said, "I want to be a doctor when I grow up." I was kind of surprised. So far her aspirations had been to work at Hy-Vee, the grocery store we frequent. Not that there's anything wrong with that vocation; I just had hoped she would make lots of money so she could afford to put me in a good home when I'm old and senile. Then last night when we were giving the girls a bath, she was checking Baby R's ears and saying, "Looks good, looks good" in almost exactly the same intonation as our pediatrician. This may be her calling after all.

Sometimes we have waffles for breakfast. Ok, often we do. S likes her waffles cut into squares with syrup. Then she likes to "share" mine and not eat hers. Sigh.

They say toddlers/preschoolers don't have much of a memory which is partly why they can be distracted when they are building toward a tantrum. "They" have clearly never met S and her elephantine memory. A month ago she said something about how we had left cookies for Santa on the hearth last year. We haven't talked about that since Christmas. Today she said, completely out-of-the-blue, that when Baby R gets bigger, she can go to Sesame Street Live with her and Daddy. And I can go, too! Um, she went to Sesame Street Live last December. Sheesh!

And regarding distracting her, yesterday when I picked the girls up from my parents' house, she wanted to get the mail with my dad before he left for work, but he was running late. Here's their conversation:

S: Let's go get the mail.
Dad: Sorry, honey, I have to go. I'll get it when I get back. I love you!
S: Let's go get the mail.
Dad: Do you know how much I love you?
S: Let's go get the mail.
Dad: Do you love me?
S: Let's go get the mail.

This went on for a few minutes before he gave up and got the mail.

Finally, S is just growing so much. I marked her height on our broom closet on her bday at the end of July, and when we measured her again a couple of weeks ago, she was half an inch taller! In the last week or two, she's learned how to pump her legs to swing by herself. And she really grasps interacting in conversations now. She was telling her baby sister a story this morning, and not talking at her, but really talking to her, even though Baby R clearly wasn't able to reply verbally. Amazing!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Quick Update

So I've been scrambling to get things with my car resolved, and the happy news is that it is totaled and worth about twice what I thought, so we are mini van shopping. The other good news is that we chose a daycare provider - another in-home, part-time - and we start on Friday. Whew! I'm WAY behind on NaNoWriMo because of last week, but I'm not giving up. I may not be able to hit the deadline, but I'm enjoying writing again. I have tons of cute kid comments that I'm going to try to compile from all the scraps of paper they are on and include in a post soon. I submitted a couple of posts to Gigi at KludgyMom for her Thanksgiving ebook, so I haven't had a chance to put anything together here, but I will soon.

My mom had a follow up visit with the orthopedist and he said she didn't break her arm - it was the old break that had healed that they saw on the x-ray. And her other arm is fine. But the one they thought was broken had the ulna shoved into the elbow, so she's not supposed to lift anything with it - not even a cup - for two weeks. They won't put it in a sling because it will get too stiff - she needs to move it, but not lift with it.

Also, my sister-in-law is part of start-up called Skinny Gene. It's a company dedicated to helping people find out if they have pre-diabetes to get them the help they need before it becomes full-blown. Diabetes is a huge growing problem in the U.S. and they have won awards for their ingenuity. They are up for a Pepsi Refresh Good Idea grant, so I've added a link about them on the right side of the blog towards the bottom. Check it out and vote for them!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Joke of the Day

Did you hear the one about a crazy woman and a deaf woman driving on perpendicular streets? The crazy woman tries to turn left in front of the deaf woman, and WHAM! Totals her car.
Where's the punchline???

Sadly, there isn't one. Yesterday morning I was taking Baby R to my in-laws and S to preschool before I stopped to vote on my way to work. I decided to take a shortcut. Unfortunately, the main road it led to was a parking lot as traffic had been diverted from the highway because of an accident. I was trying to turn left, the car directly across from me was trying to turn left, and the car to my left was trying to turn left. All of us had to weave our way through the solid line of cars on the eastbound side of the road. I looked left and there were no cars coming, so I eased out and tried to figure out how I could make my way around the other left-turners since the hole the line of cars made wasn't flush with the intersection. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a car coming right at us. I had just enough time to suck in my breath and tense up before the crash. My car spun 90 degrees and the air bags blew.


My car. :(

All I could think about were my babies.  I was gripping the steering wheel and saw the powder from the air bag squirt out. Briefly I thought that I should move because I knew it could cause chemical burns. Then Baby R started crying, and I asked S if she was ok. She said yes, but said, "Mommy, your car's broken. Your car's broken!" She was starting to get hysterical. I was shaking but knew I had to pull it together for the girls. "It's ok, baby," I said. "As long as you're not hurt, I'm not worried about the car."

I sat there unsure what to do. I'm not wholly unfamiliar with car accidents, though I'd like to say I was. But I'd never been in anything more than a fender bender. I was always able to drive away. There was no driving my car yesterday. How had I not seen that car coming? I had looked. I remembered exactly what the street looked like and there was no car there. It literally came out of nowhere. After a minute or so a woman approached my car. She was a kind bystander offering her help. I tried to open the door, but it was stuck. I finally was able to push it open far enough to squeeze out. The woman from the other car had gotten out, too, and seemed unharmed. I did exactly what you're NOT supposed to do. "I'm so sorry," I gushed. "It was completely my fault."

"I'm deaf," she mouthed to me.

Holy crap. What kind of evil person crashes into a deaf woman? "I'm so sorry," I said, again looking directly at her so she could see my lips. "Are you ok?"

She nodded her head yes, and asked if I needed help with the girls. The other woman was trying to get Baby R out. Suddenly I had a moment of clarity which resulted in embarrassment as they looked at S who was wrapped up in her quilt. "Oh, uh, hang on. I need to get her dressed still." So there in the middle of a busy road during rush hour with all eyes on us as a scene of an accident, I frantically tried to get my 3-year-old dressed in 45 degree weather. Never mind that they don't know that she refuses to wear clothes until the very last second so ends up thrown in the car in her underwear most days. I just look like an irresponsible mother on top of being evil for crashing into a deaf woman. Fantastic!

The other woman was trying to bounce Baby R in her infant car seat to soothe her. I looked over and realized she's covered in snot. She's had a cold for 3 1/2 weeks. I took her back to the doctor Monday because the neighbor's son was diagnosed with croup, and I felt like her phlegmy cough was getting tighter. Nope, ears were clear, lungs sounded fine;  just wait it out. Sure, easy for them to say. They don't have an accident with her in the car the next day coated in mucous for everyone to see. I'm sure this woman was thinking, "Ever heard of Kleenex, lady?"

I called 911 and the dispatcher said someone had already called it in and an officer was on his way. She asked if we could move our cars and I told her no, so she said she'd send a tow truck, too. I called my dad and asked him to come get the girls. I called my father-in-law to tell him I wasn't bringing them over right then. I called work to tell them that I was going to be late. I called preschool to say that S may or may not be in later. I started gathering the things I needed to get out of the car right then. (Upside to wrecking my car - I finally cleaned it out later that afternoon at the tow lot.) Another good Samaritan had seen I had a baby in the car and offered to bring us a blanket. I already had one, but told her thank you for stopping.

The policeman arrived at the same time as my dad. I got the girls passed to him and started to dig out my driver's license and insurance and registration. At this point, I realized that my right hand was really hurting. There was a red mark from my thumb knuckle across the back of my hand to my wrist where the air bag powder had landed. The officer asked if anyone was hurt and I told him no, I just had a burn from the air bags. The other woman had a sore knee where she'd bumped it, but that was it. He asked if the girls had been in their carseats. I told him yes. Everyone was in agreement that that was the important thing, the girls were ok. I nodded and bit my lip, but I couldn't hold back my tears anymore. I buried my face in my purse pretending to look for my ID until I could get it together again.

It's kind of hard to see, but this is the burn on my hand from the air bag.
I found my insurance card. It expired last week. $#!@. I knew we must have gotten new cards in the mail, and we just hadn't put them in our wallets yet.  So I got a ticket for that which will be thrown out when I take my updated card to the courthouse, but what a pain. The policeman asked me what happened, and I told him. He asked me if any environmental factors contributed to the accident like the sunlight. This will totally sound like I used it as an out, but it made perfect sense. I swear I looked and there were no cars coming. But the car that hit me was black and coming from the east, and the sun was just above the roof of the houses so it was blindingly bright, and below it was dark shadows. It made me feel better to realize that's probably why I didn't see it.

The tow truck guy came and asked us where we wanted the cars towed. Uhhhhh....he suggested their lot and the insurance adjusters could come look at the damage there, and then we could decide where to take our vehicles for repairs. (Though he thought mine was probably totaled due to the air bags having deployed and the state of the axle/frame as seen in the photo below. Awesome.) Sure, fine. I called my dad to tell him he could come back for me. He still hadn't made it to their house yet, traffic was so bad. He'd heard there were a dozen or so accidents that morning. What the...? No problem. I called my father-in-law. He was kind enough to come get me.

At least the tire doesn't look damaged....

The officer had us move to the other side of the street from where I'd started out. The other woman's daughter arrived to pick her up. I heard someone call my name. A guy I used to work with had seen me. Grreeeaaat. I LOVE running into people I know when I do stupid stuff. Thankfully, he's a really cool guy. He came over to see how I was, and we chatted for a bit, and he offered to give me a ride, but I told him my FIL was on his way. Then the officer came to give me my $90 ticket for failing to yield. Perfect.

My father-in-law arrived then and asked me where I was having my car towed. I told him just the tow lot. He asked me how much they charged since he'd heard of people getting scammed for $100/day. Yikes! I didn't know, so I asked the guy and he said $20/day. Whew. That's more reasonable, I guess, though charging people anything for this kind of thing seems like highway robbery! It's like weddings, they can charge more because you NEED them. Pfft.

We got to my parents' house, and we decided the girls would just stay there that day since my FIL didn't have car seats. My hand was killing me by this point, so I got on-line and looked up what I was supposed to do to treat it. Rinse it immediately in cold water for 20 minutes. Hmmmm. It had been about an hour since the accident, but I rinsed it anyway. Don't use ice, but a cool, damp cloth and take acetaminophen. So I wrapped it in a washcloth, and Dad and I took S to preschool, and I called the insurance company. By the time we were back at my parents' house, they had set up a rental car for me.

My hand was hurting even more, so I decided to call the Ask-A-Nurse hotline. They didn't know what chemicals were used in the air bags, so they couldn't dispense accurate advice. They suggested calling poison control. The woman there (also named Jennifer, shocker) told me to try zinc oxide ointment. Ok, sounded like a plan. I decided to stop at the pharmacy after I got my car before I headed to the office. My dad took me to Enterprise, but that location didn't have any cars available. It was going to be later in the afternoon before they had any. So Dad took me to Walgreens to get some zinc oxide ointment. I walked back to the pharmacy and asked if someone could help me find any. "Oh, sure it's in the baby aisle." Oh? "Yeah, Desitin." SERIOUSLY? I have an 11-mo-old teething infant. We have 3 tubes of this stuff at home. Sigh. I just left the store and decided to apply some when I got home.

We headed to preschool to pick up S and I couldn't delay it any longer. I called my DH. I had had plenty going on so had a legitimate reason not to call yet, but I was avoiding it, too, because I knew that 1) I would start crying when I heard his voice, and 2) he was NOT going to be happy to hear I had wrecked the better of our two cars. Got that over with and picked up S. She and Dad dropped me off at work since an Enterprise employee could pick me up later to get my rental. The rest of the day was much less interesting.

Oh, I never did end up voting. First time in years I missed it. I decided I will never again take that shortcut. Oh wait - there's the punchline - the street on the shortcut is Twilight. Jinxed by the damn vampires since I was finally convinced to read the stupid books!
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