Thursday, September 30, 2010


You know you are well into parenthood and approaching middle age when you start to relate to just about all the family themed sitcoms on TV.  Either your family, or one you know, seems very well represented on the screen.

We, and when I say we, I mean everyone in the house but my husband who is somehow strangely immune to the vast majority of illnesses that sneak into our family, were all feeling pretty crummy last night.  We ended up watching TV pretty much the whole time.

One of the shows we watched  was The Middle, which is such a funny show that you must watch it.   The youngest son on the show, Brick, is a unique child to say the least.  He whispers to himself all the time.  Last night, he wanted to keep leaves as pets, which totally reminds me of Ashley.  She'd do something like that. 

On the show last night, his parents were trying to teach him how to blow his nose.  Simple enough, right?  No way.  It's one of the things in the fine print of parenthood, that no one ever warns you how hard it is going to be. 

There are a lot of those challenges as a parent.  The ones that seem insurmountable.  The things that you swear your kids are just never going to figure out.  You start to imagine them going to college with snot running down their face, riding a bike with training wheels in high school, tripping over their untied shoelaces as an adult.  Shudder. 

Of course, it depends on the kid.  Some just figure things out faster, some seem to have a hard time grasping concepts that seem like second nature to us as adults. 

Nose blowing is a big one.  Most kids will either suck in their snot or blow out of their mouth for years before they figure it out.  Then when they figure out the whole blowing thing, it takes a while to coordinate the tissue holding and blowing.  It, apparently, is very complicated.

Wiping after going to the bathroom is another big one.  Wiping is one thing no one ever warns you about.  You mean I have to teach them to wipe???  Yes.  And it takes FOREVER.  If you are like me, you have had the privilege of reluctant wipers.  The ones who flat out refuse to do it.

...When they start to wipe, you have to teach them to be thorough without using an entire roll of toilet paper. 

...When they use an entire roll of toilet paper (and they will), you have to teach them to be able to tell when it's going down and when it's not. 

...When it's not going down (and there are times that it won't), you have to teach them to get mom fast and not to keep flushing and flushing and flushing. 

Tying their shoes has proven an elusive skill, as has riding a bike without training wheels.  Aidan just recently figured out how to tie his shoes tight enough that they didn't untie immediately. He's 9.  It took almost two solid years of trying before Ashley rode without training wheels...yet the child taught herself how to use a snowboard without a major incident. 

Teaching them how to hit a baseball is another one.  It requires hand-eye coordination, timing, aim and a certain degree of bravery.  I'm sure there are kids out there that master this one quickly, AJ might be that way, but as of yet, none of the others have been.

I'm sure we have years ahead of us in this department, many more skills to be taught that will make us frustrated.  We still have to teach them how to drive.  I'm exhausted just thinking about it. I remember how my parents would cringe at the thought.  The invisible steering wheels and brakes that appeared in the passenger seat.  The sighs and the cries of brakes, brakes, brakes!!!   I'm not looking forward to my time in that seat.

I'm starting to think that AJ just might be a genius.  He's barely two, and as of this morning, he can already blow his nose.   Here's to hoping he can figure out some of the other stuff fast too.  Even if he doesn't, it's okay.  I'm pretty skilled with a plunger these days.  His dad has spent years running behind bikes.  And we've both thrown what seems like a million balls before a single one was hit.

We knew that parenthood wasn't going to be easy.  We knew there would be challenges. I just don't think either one of us ever realized how hard it would be to teach someone to blow their nose.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I love music.  I love the expression, the creativity, the way it can penetrate clear through into your soul and being.  I love to watch an artist mature, to watch their vulnerability, to share their thoughts. 

Music really is the soundtrack of our lives.  There are so many songs that can instantly transport me to a time and place in my past, sometimes with unanticipated raw emotions.  Music becomes a part of who we are.

While I was back in Southern California this last time, I was reminded again of how different the music is there.  More people equals more choice.  More choice equals more music.  And more choice, more importantly, equals better music. 

Coming back here to Colorado I noticed something almost immediately.  There is a song that has been in very heavy rotation on the pop stations for a while now, California Gurls by Katy Perry.  It's only the biggest song of the summer, no big thing.  Bet you've never heard it, right?

Anyway....they do something to that song here.  Radio edit it.  They take something out.  And the removal is what offends me.  It is so very wrong on so many levels.  It really doesn't make much sense anyhow as her lyrics are virtually all innocent and suggestive simultaneously...which honestly worries me a little more as a parent than what has been removed from the song.   By the way: I heart Katy Perry, I'm just not sure I love that my daughters heart her too. 

If they aren't taking lyrics like "We'll melt your popsicle" out, then what are they removing, you ask???

Snoop.  They took out the rap portion.

I object to the
of my music!

Yes, I did it again.  I totally made up a word.  It's a good one, though.  

Music censorship isn't anything new.  It's been going on for as long as there has been music.  Religion, political incorrectness, politics...the reasons given in an attempt to justify it are many.  Elvis shook his hips too much back in the day.

These days, the FCC gets to decide what you can and can't say on the radio and when.  Specifically from 6am to 10pm, you aren't allowed to broadcast anything offensive or indecent.  Two very vague words, they are.

Most of the music censorship these days is done, not as the result of any rule or law, but because of corporate decisions.  Walmart notoriously refused to carry Nirvana's album in the 1990's until they altered the packaging.  

Some artists choose to record self-censored versions of songs or whole albums for sale or broadcast, but most don't.  Most send their works out there into the world to be mangled by radio edits in the name of protecting us all from hearing something inappropriate.  

Should foul language be edited out?  Yes.  I won't argue that one (at least during the specified hours, after 10pm I'd like to be able to hear music unedited thank you very much).  But what is and is not a foul word is a gray area, subject to the interpretation of whoever has their finger on the button.    

That gray area extends these days to words like "gun" and "joint" and "smoke"...all of which have been removed from popular songs. 

Never before now though, have I heard an entire portion of a song edited out.  I'm curious as to what the justification is for removing Snoop's part.  Is it just because the words are rapped?  No, that can't be it because the station plays hip hop and rap all the time.  Is it because he uses offensive words?  The most offensive phrases in his portion are "squeeze her buns", "no weenies" and "I'm all up on ya".  Frankly, those are mild compared to half the songs on the station.

So then, why?  WHY???? 

Do they just hate Snoop?  What gives?  Don't be hatin.  Give me back my Snoop.  I object.

Monday, September 27, 2010


I feel terrible.  I want to curl up in a ball, remove my entire digestive system from my body and sleep.  That stomach virus I was sure I'd had and been done with last week came back with a vengeance.  At 9:27pm last night.

I didn't sleep hardly at all.  I couldn't find a way to get comfortable.  I kept needing to get up.  I was hot, then cold.  Two of the kids still felt compelled to climb in bed with us and snuggle when the absolute last thing I want in the universe right now is a two year old kicking me in the stomach.

The kids have all had a turn with this one, and when they were/are sick, they get all kinds of awesome attention.  Sprite on call, gatorade whenever they want, complete control of the TV remote, their own bowls and towels to carry around just in case.  If they want to lay down, they can.  If they want to sleep all day, they can. 

Me, though, not so lucky.  Moms don't get a day off.  It doesn't matter how I feel, I still have to take care of everything else.  That everything else that includes a five year old home sick too and a two year old still battling it himself. 

I apologize if I'm not loving my job right about now.  If I seem negative and whiny.  I hurt and I am tired.

Motherhood would be better if there were unicorns.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


One of my fabulous blogger friends (who was a fabulous friend long before things like blogs were invented) tends to run posts entitled This Is What Sunday Looks Like.  She is a Mormon, and was called to serve in the child care area of the church on Sundays.  Which, if you knew her, you would know that it makes all the sense in the world.  She is honestly one of the funnest people I know, with really amazing accessories.  Seriously, she is a grown up and can pull off headbands.

So anyway, she posts fairly routinely about her adventures in the child care room.  And what adventures they are!  Then again, she has a gift with words and can make what is sure to be a routine day seem like the most interesting three hours ever. 

I was thinking about her this morning as I sat here and pondered what to write.  I laughed.  I think people would be appalled if they knew What Sunday Looks Like around here.  And I'd be mortified. 

I will spare you all from photographs...I know that I don't want evidence of my Sundays floating around on the internet. 

Let me set the scene for you:

* Mountains of dishes, in various states of rinse, piled precariously on the counter.  In the sink.  Oozing out of the space devoted to dishes.

* Kitchen table covered with (in no particular order): scattered sections of the newspaper, 3 almost empty cereal bowls, Ally's handwriting notebook, a tray filled with the fake food from the play kitchen and 23 of the 26 magnetic letters of the alphabet.

* Under the table, more fun awaits.  My flip flops, shoved down there by the only person in the house who fits easily under there...AJ.  He likes to wear my shoes.  An upside down empty raisin container.  A disassembled flashlight.  And the plastic top from a Slurpee that belonged to one of the girls yesterday.

* Random pieces of clothing scattered from yesterday's try-everything-on festivities.  Love seasonal transitions around here.

* The hum of the dryer in the background.

* Toys everywhere.  And when I say everywhere, I mean everywhere.  Literally.

* The carpet is littered with popcorn remnants from the movie/college football marathon that has been the last two days.  And a faux leather jacket Aidan insists on wearing in the school talent show next month.  Except it's way too big.  More on the talent show later.  Darn you Justin Bieber!

* Two kids huddled under a blanket in the corner with a flashlight.  One with hair that closely resembles a lion's mane this time of day.  The other covered head to toe in marker.  A third child changing her clothes constantly in between dancing to the music on the TV.  Because it wouldn't be a fashion show without loud music.

* Aidan is out at church with Grandma Kathi.  Aidan loves church, not because he loves church but because there are donuts after. 

* I'm sitting here sipping my second cup of coffee, still in my pajamas.

* My husband is out running laps around the neighborhood, training for his relay marathon.  Somehow he got the 8 mile portion.  This morning he asked me if we had Vaseline for his nipples.  If you have to lube up your nipples before participating in something, shouldn't that be a sign that maybe you aren't supposed to do it?  Just sayin.

That's what Sunday looks like around here.  At least I didn't take pictures.

Tomorrow, order will be restored.  Thank goodness.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Last night we crammed our six bodies onto the couch, filled bowls with popcorn and watched a movie together.  We usually do one movie night a week with the kids, and almost always let them choose the film.

Usually, we end up watching something we have seen a million times.  Something in heavy rotation in the house already.   The only real rule about the movie is that it can't be something that Tom and I can't stand.  So, you know right there that Shark Boy and Lava Girl will never be screened at family movie night. 

A few weeks back the kids picked Forrest Gump.  We'd been to one of the Bubba Gump shrimp restaurants in California, and they were intrigued by all the references to the movie.  They wanted to know who Forrest was, who Bubba was.  Aidan was fascinated by the historical references in the movie, he wanted to know how they edited everything to make it look like Forrest was really at the White House.  The real pieces of history in the movie have been a jumping off point for all kinds of conversations with the kids, about important things.  Like what war is, why drugs are bad, why it's okay to be different.   Things that it is our responsibility as parents to teach them about. 

I'm sure there are people who will be shocked to know that we let our kids watch that movie already. 

Compared to the movies I saw when I was their age, though, this is mild. 

Last night, I cringed a little when Tom picked the movie.  He wanted to watch it, asked the kids if they wanted to see a movie about sharks.  Jaws.  Yes, it's violent and graphic in parts.  Yes, there is a decent amount of foul language.  I was hoping for something mellower, but Jaws it was. 

The kids got a little scared after the first few attacks.  Ally just kept asking where the little boy on the yellow raft went.  She spent a lot of time hiding halfway under a blanket.  They all calmed down after I told them that almost the entire movie was filmed in a pond in Universal Studios using robots.  It isn't real.  AJ just thought the shark was cool, and kept roaring at it every time it came on the screen.  (Maybe he is a little like his mommy after all.)

I have issues with the movie, but not for most of the reasons that other people do.  It didn't freak me out.  It didn't make me scared of going in the water.  It didn't make me irrationally afraid of sharks.  It did the opposite.  I fell in love with them.

I fell in love with sharks. read that right.

So much so that in college my senior thesis was on the overfishing of sharks in international water, and the harm such unregulated fishing would have on the ecosystem of the entire ocean.  I wrote about how imperative it is that we find a way to get a handle on the situation before the damage done is irreversible.  I wrote this long before it became a topic that was covered much in the news.

Most sharks are fished only for their fins.  The remainder of the animal often thrown back into the ocean.  Shark fin soup is a very high priced delicacy in many countries around the world.  And there aren't enough people out there rallying for the protection of sharks....partially because we humans perceive them as a threat.  They aren't worth protecting, because they want to eat us.  Right? 


Sharks are one of the apex predators of the ocean.  If we mess with that balance, who knows how much we may ruin in the process?  Someday, I fear, we may find out.

Peter Benchley, the writer of the book Jaws, the man behind the movie and the fear that followed, understood that he had given sharks an unfair reputation.  He spent most of the end of his career writing non-fiction about saving the ocean ecosystem.  Two of his quotes follow.

I know now that the mythic monster I created was largely a fiction.

[T]he shark in an updated Jaws could not be the villain; it would have to be written as the victim; for, worldwide, sharks are much more the oppressed than the oppressors.

This movie, a work of fiction, did quite a bit of damage.  It made people afraid of the ocean.  It painted a picture of a dangerous man eating predator.  It made sharks indefensible.  And in doing so, it made them quite vulnerable. 

There are people who believe that movies are just movies and only represent entertainment.  I'd argue that they can be more than that.  Much more.  And in this particular case, a movie very well may have changed the course of how an entire ecosystem is treated. 
Rather than allow my children to be afraid of this movie, I told them from the beginning that the shark was a robot in a pond.  I taught them that real sharks, though they may be dangerous, need our help to survive.  And we need them just as much as they need us. 
Even if they are a little scary.

Friday, September 24, 2010


I was invited to attend a special advance showing of Disney's new movie, Secretariat, last night.  I dressed my three older children up in nice clothes, combed their hair and urged them to be on their very best behavior. 

As we walked in, we were ushered to the theater for the screening.  My name was on the list, and we were guided to our reserved seats.  Surrounded by reporters and industry folks and bloggers, we waited for the film to begin.  The kids were very impressed that my name was on the roped off seats.

Okay, so really the kids were more amused that Disney invited me to the screening than anything else. 

Prior to arriving at the theater, I'd told the kids only that the movie was about a horse and that it was a true story.  I confess that I read some of the reviews of the film before yesterday.  Most of them were good, with the exception of a few writers who didn't enjoy the unrealistic portrayal of race horse training. 

After seeing the movie, though, I am not certain that there was an unrealistic portrayal of his training.  I am not naive, and I am fully aware of the realities of horse racing and training in general.  However, I can see how maybe this horse, this family, this trainer, this situation was special.  This family loved the animals like their own children.  This horse was unique, one who just loved to run and run fast.  I think a lot of his abilities were the result of good breeding and luck, and rather than try to train that into him, the people around him just provided a forum for him to do what came naturally.

He was an amazing horse, with an unbreakable spirit and a will to win that may never be matched. 

The movie was as much about the story of Penny Chenery as it was about the horse.  She was a housewife in Colorado who returned home to the family farm in Virginia after her mother's death.  She took over care of the farm since her father, suffering from what I have to assume was Alzheimer's, was unable to.  She tried to balance everything, flying back and forth between her husband and four children and the farm. 

In the end, all the risks she took paid off.  The time away from her family, the financial gambles, the eccentric trainer, it all worked.  Secretariat won the Triple Crown and secured his title as the best racing horse ever.  Into the history books he went, becoming a legend in the process. 

Penny Chenery just might become one too through this film.  She is what so many of us women aspire to be.  Grounded, but driven.  Dedicated to her family and the pursuit of her dreams at the same time.

The obvious trouble with that in my eyes is that she was never much like the rest of us.  She isn't much like me, anyhow.  She came from money.  She had the financial resources to fly all over the country at will.  I could be more impulsive, more risk taking, more free to follow my dreams if I had the resources to do it too. 

I don't intend to diminish her success and achievements at all, really I don't.  I would stop short, however, of using her story as an example for other women to balance home and work successfully.  It's a lot easier to do that when you're wealthy to start out with.

All in all, the movie was fun.  It was entertaining.  It was suspenseful, even going into the theater knowing the outcome. It may have glossed over many of the details.  It may not have given a full picture of what the world of horse racing is really like.  It wasn't just a true story, it was the Disney version of a true story.  The nicely buttoned up version.

It was breathtakingly beautiful at times.  From back in my college cinema class days, I love good cinematography. 

One thing this movie did was to solidify my daughter's love of horses.  Not only does she want to ride she wants to race them.  Too bad she doesn't come from money.  Racehorses aren't cheap.

As a postscript....I can't believe that I failed to mention how awesome John Malkovich was.  He played the eccentric trainer, and did a very good job of it.  I have no idea if it was an accurate portrayal of the real person he was intended to represent, but he was hilarious.  Then again, I am just a huge fan of John Malkovich in general

My thanks to the people at Disney and BlogHer for this opportunity!

Thursday, September 23, 2010


My name is Kelly and I am addicted to Halloween costume planning.  It's been less than 12 hours since I last searched the internet frantically.

If I had any sense at all, I would retire. Go out on top, like Seinfeld. I don't think I will ever be able to beat last year. I'm fairly certain I won't. It was that good.

But I'm gonna try.

This year the kids had more say in the costume planning than last year. They actually decided, without much input from me, to coordinate their costumes again. They are characters from Toy Story 3. Aidan wanted to be Buzz one last time, Ashley is Little Bo Peep, Ally is Barbie and AJ is most likely going to be the alien. Or Potato Head. Or Rex. Or Bullseye. Or Woody. He's the only one I'm not sure about yet....hence the frantic internet searching.

For the record, Ally was very specific about which Barbie she is going to be. She has to be the one from the third movie. The one in the aqua 80's inspired aerobics outfit. Because it's super easy to find aqua leotards. Rest assured...I found one. But not before I found out that when you search the internet for metallic unitard some very stange things pop up.

I'm not sure that Tom and I will be playing along this time around. Then again, I would have to admit that he is fully entitled to a year off after what I put him through last year.

Yes, he was a flying monkey.

Even if we decide to play along, I'm not sure he is willing to play the role the kids want him to. They want him to be Woody. And he has issues with Woody.

Back when Aidan was a baby, we dressed him up as Dumbo. Tom was a cowboy. Except everyone kept calling him Woody, since, well, he really looked like Woody. He spent most of the night saying I'm NOT Woody!

By the way, I'm in SO much trouble for posting this picture...

So, he's got issues with being Woody. The kids want him to be Woody and me to be Jessie. Not making any promises this year.

Tom's more likely to be Stinky Pete, which would be hilarious.

Is it wrong that a month before Halloween, I am already scheming for next year?

Picture it:

Alice and Wonderland!!! With the Mad Hatter and the White Rabbit and the Queen of Hearts and Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.

It's gonna be awesome.

Who am I kidding? I can't retire.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


My bad.

Shortly after posting earlier today, I realized what a big whiny baby I was being.


Life sucks sometimes. It just does. I don't want to be a whiner though.

I have this habit of giving out super awesome advice to friends when they ask for it, then refusing to heed it myself. The piece of advice coming to mind at the moment is a good one, and I need to listen to it.

Put your big girl panties on and deal.

Sure, there are a lot of things going on in my world right now, and I really don't have much control over the vast majority of them.

The simple truth is that being upset about it all isn't going to do me any good. It's not going to fix anything. It's not going to change other people. It won't fix the wrongs.

Plus, it's just really annoying.

Sorry for being such a big whiny baby.

I pulled out the big girl panties today, and I've got them on. I'm not happy about it. They don't fit right, they are uncomfortable and I'd really rather not be wearing them. But I will. Because I have to.

I have to because as I was on the verge of tears today, ready to scream in frustration, I noticed a comment here from my Dad.

I had all the windows open, a gentle breeze blowing through the house. Rain softly falling outside. I read his words. And I knew instantly that I'd been a big whiny baby.

He has far more reasons than I do to whine. And he doesn't. He never has.

He's taught me so much, and today, maybe without even intending to, he taught me more.

Life isn't about weathering the storms, it's about learning to dance in the rain.

Sometimes dancing requires big girl panties.

I love you, Dad.


I'm in a really bad mood today.

There. I gave you fair warning.

I'm sick and tired of so many things right now and seem to be really lacking in the patience department. Like, as in woefully inadequate.

I'm tired of doctors who place a bandage on a situation and wash their hands of it rather than figuring out what is really going on. There is a reason it's called the practice of medicine.

I'm sick of people not taking responsibility for their stupidity. If you make an ass out of yourself, especially if you are making an ass out of other people in the process, own it. Apologize. Fix it.

I'm tired of fighting with unreasonable people.

I'm sick of walking out my front door every day and cringing because I can't stand my neighbor.

I'm tired of waiting for people to make good on promises they made a long time ago. Promises that got me here in the first place. Promises, that because they weren't kept, have screwed up a lot of other things in my life.

I'm sick of living so far away from where I am supposed to be. Of being conflicted virtually every second of the day.

I'm tired of a lot of things right now.

I feel like I just want to scream at the top of my lungs. If only that would help, I might just try it.

Sorry. I don't mean to be such a downer today. At least I warned you all that I am in a bad mood. That should count for something, right?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


80% of success is showing up.
~ Woody Allen

I was reminded of this quote today. I thought about it in the context of marriage, but I'd suppose that it could be said to pertain to just about anything.

Marriage is as much about being there for the other person as it is about them being there for you. Or at least it is supposed to be. Sometimes we ask a lot of our spouses. Sometimes we need a lot. Sometimes we ask and ask them to give until they have nothing left. Other times, though, all we ask is that they show up.

Sometimes it is enough to know that wherever we are is important enough. That whatever we need them to be there for is worth showing up. That all the other things they could be doing, the other places they could be, the other people they could be with come second.

Sometimes all you have to do is show up.

This quote pertains as much to parenthood as it does to marriage. Really.

Take a journey with me down memory lane. Not mine, but yours. Look back on the times that you were disappointed. That you felt you weren't important enough. I guarantee the times you remember are the times someone wasn't there.

Kids don't remember all the times you showed up. They remember the one time you didn't.

What did you show up for today?

Monday, September 20, 2010


Inspired by and borrowing from a comedic genius...

If you've spent more money on one tiny pair of shoes than all the clothes you are wearing right now, you might be a mom.

If you've successfully negotiated a hostage release from a bathroom, you might be a mom.

If you've walked out of the house knowing you had spit-up, snot or slobber on your shoulder, you might be a mom.

If you've chosen your outfit based on whether you could whip your boob out of it inconspicuously, you might be a mom.

If you've responded to a question with the answer just because, you might be a mom.

If you've injured yourself chasing a child, you might be a mom.

If you've bought Magic Erasers in bulk, you might be a mom.

If you've realized that you can't understand the new math or lamented that Pluto should still be a planet, you might be a mom.

If you've been up half the night baking cupcakes, you might be a mom.

If you've woken up at 4am the day after Thanksgiving so you could get all your Christmas shopping at once, you might be a mom.

If you've driven around for an hour when you had nowhere to go because someone was asleep, you might be a mom.

If you've mopped your floor at 11pm just so it could stay clean for a few hours, you might be a mom.

If you've screamed at a child at the same time you were hugging them, you might be a mom.

If you've eaten cold macaroni and cheese off a plate that didn't belong to you, you might be a mom.

If you've hidden candy in your own house, you might be a mom.

If you've uttered the phrase "when your father comes home...", you might be a mom.

If you've spent more money to go see dancing stuffed animals on stage than you did on your last real date, you might be a mom.

If you've road tested furniture before buying it, you might be a mom.

If you've actually licked your hand to clean someone's face, you might be a mom.

If you've cried watching a baby take their first steps, you probably are a mom.

And if you've stayed up all night long watching someone else breathe, you are a mom.

Thanks to Jeff Foxworthy for the inspiration, thanks to my kids for reminding me every day to find humor in the chaos, and thanks to all the moms I've known. Your stories, our stories, they are worth telling. Thank you for sharing them with me.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Sunday, the designated day of rest.

Good thing it is.

My body doesn't seem to want me to do much today, it's willing me to stay put on the couch.

Seems I have a stomach virus.

Why did I teach my kids to share again?

I'll be back soon enough to writing.

Just not today.

Today, I rest.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Over parented

This generation of kids may very well be the most over parented in the history of time. I see signs of it everywhere I go anymore. Parents hover and watch and guide and limit. They spend all day hanging out at school. They micromanage every single detail of their kids lives, some into the teen years.

I know it wasn't like that when I was a kid.

Time Magazine had a cover story on it last year.,8599,1940395,00.html

I took AJ to the park a few days back and saw it again. More like was smacked in the face with it.

A woman arrived at the park pushing a double stroller, with a few toddlers tagging along behind. She let the older ones start playing, then took the two little ones out of the stroller. She brought the little girl over to the area where AJ was digging in the sand and proceeded to nudge the child almost constantly to stand up and climb up the stairs. She really just wanted to sit down and play in the sand.

She was adorable and AJ was intrigued. He doesn't get to play with little kids much, and was instantly drawn to the little girl. The woman asked me how old he was, I asked how old the little girl was. She'd just turned a year old. Then, without me asking, she replied that she does daycare and just watches this little one.

She kept urging her to stand up and walk, to climb up the stairs. The little girl had no interest. She just wanted to play with the stick she'd found. Eventually, the girl put her knee up on the stair and climbed up, to much celebration by the woman. She told me the little girl was physically delayed, and that they were there to meet her therapist.


Since when is a laughing, babbling, just barely one year old who sits up and climbs and stands holding on to things physically delayed? Once the therapist arrived, she expressed great joy that the girl had taken a few steps the previous weekend at home. So she's walking too, yet somehow physically delayed?

Mom was there, at the park. Hiding behind the bushes, watching the therapist and the day care lady. She didn't come out until about twenty minutes into the session, but she was there the whole time. Paying two other people to care for her child, and hiding so she could supervise them.

I spent almost an hour at a park this week with a beautiful little already labeled by her parents, care provider and therapist for having something wrong that she does not seem to. I am fully aware that I don't have the entire picture here, just a small view into the life of this little girl. It just seems wrong. And I can't help but wonder why.

What is wrong with this generation of parents? Why are we so controlling and neurotic? How did we get this way? Yes, when I say we, I mean all of us. Some clearly more than others, but even the relaxed parents of this generation are more controlling than in years past.

What are we doing to our kids as a result?

Friday, September 17, 2010


If you have been watching ESPN this week, and I know some of you have, you've seen the story. C'mon, I can't be the only woman who catches Sportscenter on a regular basis, right? Right?!?!

There is a female sportscaster named Inez Sainz, who is claiming to have been harassed by the players of the New York Jets. She alleges that they were throwing balls in her direction intentionally at practice, and that there were inappropriate comments made when she was in the locker room after a game.

Wait a minute.

I'm a progressive woman. I'm a modern woman. I believe in equality. I believe in fairness. I also think that women are a valuable part of the sports reporting industry, perhaps because they can offer a different perspective.

But in the locker room? I don't think so.

Entertain, just for a second, the idea that the roles were reversed here. That a male reporter had been granted access to a women's professional team locker room. He chose to wear clothing that was snug and showed off his assets instead of a suit. He chose to flirt with the players as a routine way of interviewing. Then, one day, he claimed that they said inappropriate things.

Sounds pretty ridiculous, right?

Mostly it sounds ridiculous because a man would never be allowed in a women's locker room for interviews post game when the players are walking around naked. It just wouldn't happen. Period.

Truth is, she is beautiful. It's not her fault, and she shouldn't be punished for that. That's precisely how she got where she is...her looks. Last time I checked, men tend to like looking at beautiful women.

Truth is, she dresses completely inappropriately. She looks more like she is headed to a party or a club than like she is working in any professional capacity. That, she definitely has control over. However, she has chosen to dress that way, and her employer hasn't stepped in and required more professional attire. Presumably because it makes the players more likely to talk to her. Again, men like beautiful women. And men especially like beautiful women wearing tight clothes and showing cleavage.

That's just the way it is.

She has used her appearance and style of dress to advance her career, but now has decided to cry foul when it got her too much attention. I'm just having a hard time getting behind her on this one.

It's hard to take someone seriously when they are making an argument for professionalism while wearing a midriff baring shirt.

I don't think women belong in men's locker rooms, just like I don't think men should be in women's locker rooms. Sorry, call me a prude if you will, but that is just my opinion. There are just boundaries that shouldn't be crossed.

Women cannot demand equality in one hand, then refuse it on the other. We can't say you have to let us go here, but you aren't allowed the same privilege of access. It just doesn't work for me.

There is an argument to be made that women like her aren't advancing women's equality at all, in fact they may be only serving to prove the point that there are indeed places that a woman should not work.

And maybe this is one of them.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


I had plans to write about something else today, but I can't. I'm a little in shock at the moment.

Excuse me.

I don't understand.

In the last 12 hours, I've learned of two things that are so terribly wrong that I can't even fathom how someone could do them.

People can be so blinded by their selfishness. They can conjure up lies, they can deceive those closest to them. They either ignore or don't care about the collateral damage their actions will inevitably cause. They do what they want without regard for what happens to anyone else.

The root of these particular deceptions: one was greed, the other lust. Two of the seven deadly sins. I guess the offenders aren't concerned about the consequences of their actions in the next life either.

I know that what goes around comes around. I know that karma is a real bitch. I know that someday, they will pay the price for their lies.

I wish that people I love didn't have to be hurt in the process. That they didn't have to suffer at the whim of selfish people.

Apologies this morning. I am angry.

Post script: I am okay, really. Just angry.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


There is a commercial running right now, I'm sure some of you have seen it. An iPad user asks a Kindle user how she can read it in the sunlight with the glare. She replies back that there is not glare (or something like that), and that it's only $139, and she spent more than that on her sunglasses.

That's about where I laughed out loud.

I don't get the iPad. I am slightly opposed to everything the Kindle stands for. It wasn't the pieces of technology intended to be the focus of the commercial that grabbed my attention.

It was the idea that someone would spend $139 on a pair of sunglasses that made me laugh.

I know people who pay that much for sunglasses. I know people who pay more. Me? Just.Can't.Do.It. No way, no how.

I can honestly say that the most I've ever spent on a pair of sunglasses is probably about $25, and that was a splurge. I knew when I bought them it was money poorly spent. They met the same fate as all my other sunglasses.

They were lost or sat on or pulled apart or scratched or dropped.

They always are.

I just can't have nice things.

I just can't have nice things, primarily because I have children. If they aren't doing the damage directly to them, they are inevitably distracting me so that I don't notice when I leave them somewhere and walk away.

It doesn't matter what I do. My sunglasses never last long. I'm currently in search of the pair that went missing some time last week. I probably won't find them. God only knows where they are.

I have about six pairs of sunglasses here that I could wear if I really had to. Except that I won't. I'm picky. And for whatever reason, my sunglasses must meet two requirements in order to be worn. They must fit my oddly shaped face, and they must stay on the top of my head when I put them there. Not many pairs of sunglasses fit the bill, and none of the six here will work.

Yes, I said it. I have an oddly shaped face. I do.

Please don't all start staring at my head now!!!

I have a tiny little head, so small that children's hats fit me. The bridge of my nose is too narrow from breaking it a bunch of times when I was a kid. Then there is the matter of my ears. Not only do those bad boys stick out, but they are uneven. One ear is higher than the other. It's not like OMG her ears are funky uneven, but it's enough to really affect wearing glasses. I know. I'm just strange.

I really need to accept that this pair is gone and get some new ones. It takes me a while to find sunglasses that meet my requirements and are cheap enough that I will actually walk out of the store with them.

It's a good thing the ones I most recently lost only cost me $9.99. Let's hope the new ones do too.

Maybe someday I will be able to have nice things. Maybe.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Too Busy

I'm just too busy.

I can't begin to tell you how many times I have heard that one lately. It seems like with each passing year I hear it more and more often. Parents are less and less willing to help, but still want their kids to experience everything. They aren't any less demanding though, which is super fun.

Everywhere you go anymore, every after school activity, every sports's the same group of parents running the show. It's like we just move from one activity to the next because we know that if we don't do it, no one else is going to step up and offer to.

And I'm tired of the excuses.

I have four kids, but I help run the popcorn sale for Cub Scouts and am a newly anointed Daisy leader. I volunteer at school, often from home since I have a toddler. My husband works, but he is still the Cubmaster, Webelos Den leader, and an assistant coach for baseball. We're busy. But we still do it.

We are so busy here between the actual time spent at the kid's activities and all the time spent planning them since we are in charge of so many of them, we hardly have any down time.

And yet, I found myself entertaining seriously in my head the thought of volunteering to teach religious education last night. Fortunately, I didn't offer my time to anyone before the rational part of my brain kicked in and told me to keep my mouth shut.

At church, as with everything else, there aren't enough people to volunteer anymore. In some cases, the classes have been combined. The kids stuffed in the rooms like sardines.

I really was thinking about helping, but I have a two year old with the shortest attention span in the history of time. I'd have to find someone to watch him every week, which is asking a lot because he is a handful. If I had to pay a sitter, even occasionally, it would end up costing me more than the money I'd save in free tuition for the classes.

To be honest, I am not sure I can handle any more responsibilities at the moment. My sanity is worth more to me than trying to save a few bucks on the classes at church. Plus, though it was a long time ago and at a different church, I've paid my dues. I taught religious education for four years already.

Besides, I'm just too busy. Except that I really am.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


A dear friend of mine posted this on her Facebook page yesterday.

Though I am usually not at a loss for words, I am right now as I look at this picture. Or maybe it's just that there are so many things that this image makes me think about that I can't focus on just one of them.

Anyway, sometimes you don't need words. Sometimes the picture is enough.

For the souls that were lost that day, and all those who were lost because of it, I promise to remember.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

To Poke or Not to Poke

....that is the question.

It's that time of year. One that I always sort of dread. Flu season.

Or, more correctly, flu shot season.

Up until the last few years, we religiously got our flu vaccines. Once we had kids, we figured it was just safer to do it, trusting that they would work.

A few years back, there was a shortage of the vaccines. People were afraid of huge epidemics. My kids were on the should get it more than other kids, but not on the absolutely needs it list, so they didn't ever get one. The clinics ran out before our number was called.

No one in my house got the flu that year, though we went bare. The epidemics they warned of never materialized.

Then two years ago, we all lined up for the poke in the arm. The kids giggled when Tom and I got our shots. Months passed. Winter was just about over, another flu season almost over, when it hit. Ashley woke up one morning totally fine, and by 9:30 a.m. had spiked a fever over 105. Holding a vomiting child in the bathtub, calling the hospital and being told to get her there now isn't my idea of a good time.

She had the flu. Even with the vaccine, she got it. Because of her history with asthma, we got the antivirals. Over $200 worth of medication which arguably did nothing. She was down for weeks.

Then last year happened. I saw H1N1 coming months ahead of time. Having a background in public health is a blessing and a curse sometimes. Once the WHO issues statements, people like me tend to listen. And they did.

Trouble was, not enough people took those warnings seriously. At least not seriously enough. There was no vaccine available for this strain of the flu. By the time the schools bothered trying to contain the virus, Ashley's class had less than 1/3 of the students well. Everyone else was home sick.

Many got sick, some got very sick. Ashley, again, was the sickest in her class. She almost ended up hospitalized from the pneumonia that attacked her after the virus.

A few months later, a vaccine came out. I found it funny that so many people urged everyone to get the vaccine. We had the disease by then. It was too little, too late.

I've made a choice as a parent to be cautious with vaccines and my youngest. He's reacted every time he has had shots, and as a result, we are spreading them out. At his last appointment, his doctor informed me that the flu vaccines this year are a combination vaccine, with H1N1 included.

Isn't that great? (insert sarcasm here)

Personally, I don't think so. I hope that they have vaccines available that don't include H1N1. I've struggled with whether we will even bother at all anymore. The vaccines have failed us before.

Then there is that whole the flu vaccines contain thimerosol thing. If you can manage to overlook the fact that the symptoms of autism and mercury poisoning are almost identical, you can believe that there really is no link. Yes, I know that it's never been proven to be a cause.

The CDC says it is safe.

I'm a footnote reader though. And I want to know where they get their information from. Turns out the last study they are citing as proof of safety is 8 years old. With my background in health research, I know all too well that it's possible to prove or disprove just about any hypothesis, and the vast majority of health studies are funded by....wait for it....pharmaceutical companies. You know, the ones that manufacture vaccines and antivirals.

I'm a skeptical person. And I don't happen to think anyone should be injecting mercury into their bodies. But that's just me.

So, we have to decide, yet again, whether we will do it or not. I'm leaning towards not.

To poke or not to do you answer that question?

Monday, September 6, 2010


I spent a lot of time doing something I am really bad at yesterday.

Something that my husband keeps telling me I need to take classes for.

Something that gets me extraordinarily frustrated.

I fiddled with this. Fiddle, fiddle, fiddle.

You see, everything that appears on the screen here is dictated by html code and site feeds. There are templates and backgrounds and widgets. There are wrappers and column widths and buffers and linked images.

It's way scarier than it sounds.

It took me weeks, literally, to decide that I didn't like any of the three column backgrounds I could find (and realize that I wasn't comfortable downloading one from some third party site). So, I, Kelly DeBie, did the unthinkable.

I wrote html.

I took a few computer programming classes in college. I passed them, but I will be the first to tell you that my C- was completely a sympathy grade. My teacher felt so sorry for me and my pathetic attempts at code that he passed me. I'm fairly sure he also was partially afraid I'd have to repeat the class if I didn't pass and he might have to try to teach me again.

I'm that bad at it.

But after hours of editing yesterday, I did it. I conquered the html beast. I fixed my template, I uploaded a background to accommodate the new width. I even found images for post breaks and tags, which requires a whole lot of editing and linking.

I did it.

It's not perfect. I could fiddle with it more, for sure. Seeing as my head almost exploded yesterday and my wrists are sore from my carpal tunnel acting up because I spent so long on the computer yesterday, I will leave well enough alone.

For now.

I'll be back to writing tomorrow...but first, my hands and my brain need a break.

Friday, September 3, 2010


My house is clean. Like, all of it. The whole thing.

(Okay, well, the basement is a horrid mess and the garage needs an intervention...)

Other than that, though, it's clean.

It's not spotless. Not by any stretch of the imagination. I do have four kids, remember? And really, there is only so much one person can do in two hours while being followed by a two year old. A two year old who systematically undoes half of what I do.

But it's clean.

And the above mentioned two year old has stopped fighting the sandman, given into his sleepiness and is peacefully dreaming upstairs.

The house smells like chocolate, cake is in the oven. There isn't much better than that.

And I am here, alone, writing.

But really, all I want to do is look around and marvel at the wonder of my house. This is how it is supposed to look, at least in my mind.

I know it won't stay this way long. AJ will be up soon enough and the other three will be home in a few hours.

I have to sit and admire it while I have the chance.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Line, revisited

As I was cleaning the windows, I was reminded today of this post from just over a year ago....some of you may have read this one, but I know many have not.

Originally posted August 18, 2009. One of my favorites. xoxo

Last night, we both fell asleep on the couch. Worn out and exhausted, we were both too tired to make the trek upstairs before drifting off to dreamland the first time. Tom passed out before I did, though he really did try to stick it out to the end of the baseball game that was on tv. I was snuggling with a little boy, his sweaty little head nuzzled on my shoulder when I gave in to the heaviness of my eyelids. Though I am not exactly sure how long we were sleeping down here, I enjoyed every second of it. I know my days of having a baby sleeping on my chest are numbered.

At some point, we woke up and headed upstairs. I had AJ, and Tom had to turn off all the lights and lock up the house. He closed the windows, but not the blinds, as I found out this morning. When I came down, the back of the house bright with light from the morning sun, I had to giggle. What I saw was another immediate reminder that I live in a house filled with children. It's only early in the morning, when the sun is just over the horizon that you can see what I saw. The line.

Anyone with little kids will know exactly what I am talking about. With the angle of sun streaming through the windows, it's pretty clear. There is most definitely a line. Above the line, the windows are reasonably clean. Not perfect, but pretty good. Below the line is an entirely different story. Fingerprints, smudges and more - readily apparent only this time in the morning. Clear, obvious signs of the heights of my children. Of just how high they can reach.

In reality, this line exists all through the house. The few areas left with the original paint from the builder show it the most. My walls all show the remnants of kid, limited of course by their reach. My family room wall is the worst, and my repeated attempts at cleaning the wall have done little but start removing the texture. I'm not even sure what is on the wall in some spots. There is a point at which the mess stops and the clean wall above magically appears.

I clean my windows. Really, I do. But no one who has ever been in my house just after sunrise would believe it. That is, unless they remember what it was like to have tiny people living with them. And they remember the futility that is cleaning. The constant nature of the fingerprints. The never ending mission to undo the mess.

It's okay, though. The fingerprints don't bother me. I don't mind having reminders of my kids everywhere. I know they won't be there forever. I know that one day, I won't have to worry about grape jelly being smeared on my windows. I won't cringe when someone runs their hands along the wall on the way to the bathroom to wash up after dinner. Someday, the line will fade. And someday the walls and the windows will stay clean. It's not actually a day I am looking forward to.

I like the line.


It is amazing sometimes the perspective that the ordinary events of life can bestow upon you. How much in this life we take for granted. How much joy and beauty and kindness surrounds us every day.

It's easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle. To succumb to the hurry.

It's as easy, if not more so, to look at the world through jaded eyes. To filter all that comes in and only see the bad. The unfairness. The unhappiness. The dreams unfulfilled. The opportunities passed.

Then you have something happen like I just did and you reevaluate it all.

You smile a little bigger. You laugh a little more. When your heart is warmed by the simple and ordinary, the things you have in your life every single day, it's easy to find joy.

What exactly, you may ask, did I do today?

Don't get all excited thinking it was something magnificent. I went to the grocery store.

I had to pick up some things for dinner I am making tomorrow, a special one. I tend to stress bake, but I love cook. Anyone who really knows me knows exactly what that means. If I have the chance to warm the soul of someone I love with a hearty home cooked meal, I go all out. And this someone is a someone I haven't seen in a very long time. Someone that knew me when my world ended. Someone who knew who I was before and after.

Someone I will actively persuade to move closer to me. If I need to cook her a kick ass dinner to help bolster my cause, so be it.

So I went to the store, loaded my basket with the ingredients of said kick ass dinner and the other little random things I need from the grocery store on a regular basis. Like 15 apples. (That whole four kid thing....)

Ally is off school today, so I had her along with AJ for the trip. She always asks if they can have the cart with the car attached to the front, and up until today I have always said no. Something in my head said, well...maybe AJ would actually sit in there given the option. And he did. Which, let me tell you, is awesome. He doesn't enjoy containment at all and grocery shopping with him has become downright exhausting. This seems to work. And I'll take whatever I can get with him.

We did our shopping and paid for the groceries, then I asked them if they wanted to ride the horse. There is a electric horse kiddie ride in the store, and it only costs a penny. Seriously, what costs a penny anymore? Literally nothing.

Of course they wanted to ride the horse. AJ has been on it a few times, and in his universe, it is super fun. Lots of whees and yee-haws. As I was putting Ally on, AJ actually stayed in the cart patiently waiting his turn.

At that moment, a little old man came walking over, pushing a little cart with a few things and dragging his portable oxygen tank behind him. He stooped down as much as his body would let him and said hello to AJ. He then asked if it would be okay for him to pay for their rides, digging around in his pocket for some loose change.

Out came three pennies and a button, which he promptly dropped on the floor. I went over quickly to pick them up for him, and he told me he could get it. He thought. It took him a good long while, but he got down there and back up all by himself. He wondered aloud how that button got in there, then handed me the pennies. And smiled. Told Ally she had beautiful blue eyes, and commented on what a good horse rider she was. Both the kids actually said thank you without any prompting from me.

He walked off to pay for his groceries. Ally figured out quickly that the three pennies he gave me meant she could go for a few rides on the horse. And she did. Then it was AJ's turn. By that time, the man had paid for his groceries, in cash.

In his change, he got two more pennies. He walked them all the way back to the horse, hoping we were still there. Then he told me if it was up to him, he'd bring me pennies all day long just to know that the kids were having fun.

He didn't just give us pennies.

He gave my children joy. He gave me kindness. And he gave me a reminder I needed. To slow down, to be grateful, to see happiness in it's simplest form.

As I sit here and write this, I can't help but see the gift of today. And for the first time in a really long time, I felt like my Pap was watching over me...he always had a thing for pennies.

Maybe there is something to the phrase pennies from heaven.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Sometimes being the mom of four kids is hard. I won't lie. It's not always easy. Okay, so it rarely is.

There are times that all my children are well behaved and listen and play nicely together and don't whine or argue. Those times really do happen. I promise.

Those are the times when the planets align and I can with good conscience pat myself on the back for being such a good mother.

But then there are all the other times. When someone needs something. When someone touches something that belongs to someone else. When someone doesn't want to do what we need to do. Doesn't want to go here or there.

There are the times that the whining and the fighting and the arguing gets to be so loud that I just want to plug my ears and scream la, la, la, la, la, I can't hear you!

I've been asked by many people how I do it all. How I have four kids and manage to get the stuff done that I do. Like bake and plan birthday parties with homemade invitations and volunteer and this and that.

You really want to know?

A lot of it has to do with sleep deprivation.

But then there are the other two things that help. The hows.

Coffee and vodka.

Hey, you asked. ;)

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