Tuesday, May 31, 2011

30 Day Photography Challenge ~ Day 1

Alright everyone, here is your first challenge!

Day 1 - Your self portrait.

You can cheat and use a tripod or a timer, I suppose.  You can take a picture with your cell phone in a bathroom if that's what it takes.  Who are you, right now?

Me...well, forgive the wet hair. I should have dried it for y'all.  I fiddled with the editing software a little, but this is me.  Right. Now.


I wanna see YOU!  Bring it!

30 Day Photography Challenge

Are you ready????

I am so ready. 

I love, love, love photography.  I don't allow myself nearly enough time to engage in it as I should.  I'm not a terribly gifted artist when it comes to drawing or painting or sculpting or anything like that.  But I can take a kick ass picture.

Here's the plan:

Every day for the month of June, I will promise to take and share at least one picture, according to the prompts that I've put together. 

I'd love it if you played along.  There is even a prize in it at the end!  Post pictures each day to my Facebook fan page. 

Some of the prompts are fairly straightforward.  Some of them require a little planning.  Some of them require a degree of creativity.  Any of them that require technical skills, I'm totally willing to help you out with.  (especially that up-close shot and action photos)

The idea is not to re-use old pictures, but to take new ones.  If you can't get out there and shoot for whatever reason and have a fabulous submission for the day that you took before, by all means, please share it. 

I've already got ideas for the next 30 days.  :)

Have fun with it!

NaBloPoMo

Say what? 

I know, it's not the catchiest title.  To be honest, it's something that I probably should have joined and written about a long time ago.

Essentially, NaBloPoMo is a group of bloggers who vow to write something, anything, daily.  Which I already do.  I write every day unless my blog host disappears from the internet for 2 days, I am traveling without access to the internet or so far past being busy that I have no time to sit.

http://nablopomo.blogher.com/

For anyone who is interested in blogging, this is a great group to join, and I highly recommend it.  There are thousands of other bloggers there for support, in varying stages of their blogging adventures.  This particular site offers daily writing prompts when you can't think of anything to write.

I've definitely found that writing daily has benefits.  It keeps me disciplined, it keeps me focused, and it has drastically improved my writing.  I'm faster, and better.

I read some of the stuff I wrote when I first started blogging and just shake my head. 

Which is the point of my sharing this all with you.  If you love to write, write.  Write whenever you can, write even when you don't feel like it, just write.  Write, write, write. 

It will get easier. You will get faster.  It will come more naturally.  I promise.

Here's a link to my page there.  For the month of June, I will be posting links to my blog every day.  On top of doing the photography challenge. 

http://nablopomo.blogher.com/profile/KellyDeBie

You can do it! 

Monday, May 30, 2011

I'll be funny instead

They say that behind every successful comedian is a lot of pain and anguish.  I think there is some truth to it. 

I am usually the funniest here when I'm pretending to not be thinking about all the crappy things in my world.

Like this post, which ended up being one of my most commented on.  Blowing Sunshine  If you haven't read that one, go.  Really, it's freaking hilarious.

For a long time, I never really wrote what I was thinking or feeling here because I didn't want to upset my Dad.  The last thing he needed to be worrying about was me, and I knew that he was reading what I wrote every day.  So I found other things to write about. 

For a little while after his death, I was more forthcoming. More honest and open.   For a little while.

Then it was back into the hole. 

Which is a shame really, because there are some unbelievably funny things I could share if it wasn't for my being in that hole. 

Among the many lessons I've learned on this journey is that almost all the time, it's just easier to pretend.  To nod and say I am fine and let everyone around me believe it to be the truth.  To observe the things that happen around me and find the humor in them.  To be funny. 

It's far more entertaining for you guys, not to mention a whole lot less depressing and sad.

Not that I am fine, because sometimes I'm not.  Fortunately, I have the places I can go, the people I can talk to, when I'm not okay.  For all the other times, I'll just be funny instead.

Here goes.

*  AJ has developed a deep love of pop music, thanks in large part to the fact that he has an older sister who needs the constant noise in her background.  His favorite song, OMG by Usher.  He sings and dances every time it's on, and has taken to the phrase Oh My Gosh.  He says it all.the.time.  About everything.  Because two year olds should say that.  Funny things on TV?  Oh My Gosh.  Ashley sticking the landing after launching herself off the pole in the backyard?  Oh My Gosh.  Aidan's chocolate birthday cake?  Oh My Gosh!!!

*  The same two year old has a habit of asking his father not to hit the computer every single time that Tom is touching one.  Which is just hilarious for those of you who know why my dear husband's hand is currently broken.  If you don't, you can read why here:  Damn, it feels good to be a gangster.

*  Ashley has a new nickname, Rashley.  She hurt her armpit (of all places) in a bizarre child versus treadmill accident, one which I am sure would be making me rich had anyone caught it on tape. 

*  My mother in law is doing a fabulous job on her weight loss journey, and the next reward for meeting her goal is to get her ears pierced with a second hole.  Jokingly, my father in law asked her why she isn't getting her belly button pierced since she's going to be all skinny now. The conversation of course turned to other things you can do to your body, like tattoos.  I wondered aloud if when they tattoo an old person, if there is a skin stretcher used to make sure the tattoo doesn't come out all wrinkly.  You know, like an embroidery hoop.  Oh yeah, I went there.  You are welcome for that visual. 

*  One night earlier this week, my husband opened the door to the garage.  Swarm of moths flew in.  You'd have thought they were attacking him.  He has this involuntary scream reflex.  It's entertaining.  I went over there, where he insisted on showing me the garage full of moths, then the 5 or 6 that were flying around the laundry room.  He asked me if they would do anything bad, and I said that they'd eat holes in the clothes.  War declared.  Except that they were on the 9 foot ceiling and he's just over 6 feet tall.  How to reach the moths?  He settled on towel whipping them, of course.  Except that he still has a broken right hand.  Let's just say that you cannot towel whip anything with the opposite hand.  And that it's hard to make that look good.  Mostly there was just a lot of flailing.  Needless to say, he didn't kill any of the moths, but he did make me laugh pretty hard for a while. 

*  AJ colored the grout on the fireplace pink and orange this week.  Which is awesome.  The room did need a pop of color.

*  I got Aidan some body wash and deodorant this week from Old Spice.   You know, the line with the funny commercials about smelling like a man, man.  He came downstairs about 3 minutes after I brought it home.  MAN....does he smell like a man!  Like all the time now!  I bet you can smell him from where you are!

How you doin'?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Aidan.10

Double digits. 

Almost 10
How did that happen? 

Ten years ago, I woke up in the middle of the night thinking I'd eaten something that didn't agree with me.  Eventually I woke Tom up, and he ran around like mad trying to pack the bags and get everything ready. 

2 weeks
It was early.  We weren't ready.

No pediatrician picked, no bags packed, car seat sitting in a box. 

None of that mattered.

Almost immediately after we got to the delivery room, Aidan arrived.  Early and weak, he was rushed to the NICU.  He'd spend the first week and a half of his life there, with me by his side almost all the time.

5 years
Looking at the young man he's become today, no one would ever think he was once so small and fragile. 

He makes me proud, he drives me crazy.

He's growing up faster than I could have ever imagined. 

I blinked and he was ten. 

Happy Birthday, Aidan!

Some of my favorite posts about him over the years:
And so it begins...
The Tooth Fairy
Miracle
Linked
Awakened
Push the Ear
Reveling in the Misfortune of Others
Officially
While I wasn't looking

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Ancient Feline

I made the hour-long drive to the outlet mall here yesterday.  I try not to go more than twice a year or so.  It's a pain to get there, and it always takes me twice as long to get home because of the traffic.

Incidentally, I think I've lost my touch.  I'm not used to driving in crazy ass traffic with rude drivers anymore.   

Anyway, we went all the way down there because it's the only place around here with a LEGO store.  Aidan had a gift card there and a set to return, so we didn't have much choice but to go.  And, to be honest, I really don't have it in me to listen to him whine for weeks about going.  So we just went. 

Which is fine, really.  It's a good thing that mall isn't closer.

I love the Gap Outlet.  Got 2 dresses for Ashley there yesterday for less than $10 total.  My kind of shopping.

I promised the girls that I'd take them to one of the stores after we'd exchanged the LEGOs.  We walked and walked and walked.  There was whining involved.  It's a big mall.

Then we turned the corner, and there is was.  Shining in neon like a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day. 

I think I heard angels singing.  Really.

Sanrio.

Both the girls have loved Hello Kitty for a while now.  Ashley learned that there were a whole bunch of other characters a few years ago when I found a Keroppi shirt for her.  Then they got Kuromi water bottles from their Auntie for Christmas.  In love. 

Except that the stuff is virtually impossible to find here.  Hello Kitty stuff is easier to find than it used to be since it's now licensed by Target, but the other characters....good luck.

We walked into the store and they were giddy.  I had to suppress my own inner child.  I really wanted a little stationary set like the one I used to have, but I resisted. 

Ashley was hoping to get Keroppi something, Ally just wanted something fabulous. 

Ash had to settle on a My Melody plush, Ally got a fuzzy Hello Kitty purse big enough to stuff her little brother in.  I got them each a little bento box too. 

They got their own fabulous pink handle bags to walk through the mall.  Ally decided that she now needs a chihuahua to go with her purse.

By the time we got to the car, they were still raving about the awesomeness of the store.  Asking me all kinds of questions about Hello Kitty.  I said something about how my best friend had introduced me to Sanrio as a kid, how much harder it had been to find back then. 

Aidan looked at me in disbelief.  Hello Kitty was around when you were a kid???

Man, she must be one old cat.
She looks pretty good for her age.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Aidan's Interpretation of Music

My oldest seems to have inherited his father's (and uncle's) penchant for inventing lyrics to songs.  They hear the same music on the radio as all the rest of us, but in their inherent wisdom decide that their version of the lyrics is the right one. 

And clearly the best one. 

I'll not soon be forgetting the look on the face of a good friend of mine/turned kick ass radio DJ when he invited us into the studio to record some lyrics and mix them with the real song.  My kids picked Katy Perry's song California Gurlz.  Because, you know, we were in California at the time.  And technically, the three older ones really are natives even if we moved when Ally was two months old.

The lyrics my son sang to the song?

Where the grass is always green there. 

The real ones?

Where the grass is always greener.

Yep, that's my boy.  The one singing loud enough that it was obvious he was totally singing the wrong words.  Sweet.

I think he's forever ruined that line for my DJ friend. 

But in a good way.

Just today, on the way home from the store, I was cranking up the radio.  Throwback songs that only make me feel really old if they say how long ago they were recorded. 

Lollapalooza was NOT almost 20 years ago.  Shut it. 

First up, Personal Jesus by Depeche Mode

Maybe Aidan's never actually heard the song before, or maybe he has and just never listened to the lyrics before....but he thought it was the weirdest and funniest song he's ever heard.  The conversation immediately went to the apocalyptic hoaxes of last week and the store in Boulder that sells little tiny pocket Jesus statues. 

By the way, I am so loving the fact that he's old enough now to get my bizarre sense of humor. 

I hope I didn't just ruin your Friday.
After we'd laughed about that song for a while, and I'd ignored the fact that it was recorded 22 years ago (I KNOW, RIGHT?!?!?!), this song came on the radio.

Gotta Get Away, The Offspring.

I asked the boy if he knew which band it was, and he guessed Green Day.  Nope.  Sorry, dude.  Second guess: Weezer?  Not even close.  I told him it was The Offspring, the ones that sing Pretty fly for a white guy, and he recognized them.

Then he listened for a minute.  Said that they were sorta like Eminem.  Confused, I asked how exactly they were at all like Eminem. 

His response?  Well, they both seem pretty angry all the time.  Except that they are famous and rich and stuff,  so they shouldn't always be mad. 

You can't argue with that kind of observation. 

The kid is a musical genius.

So what if he can't remember the right lyrics to anything?

The Edge of Glory

I'm a bit overwhelmed by the response I've received to my writing in the last few months. 

And yeah, I'm borrowing another title from Lady Gaga. 

This whole blogging thing was a bet I had with a friend.  She'd get on Facebook if I'd start writing something.  It wasn't ever intended to become what it has.  Yet, here I am now, just shy of two and a half years into it, actually contemplating writing a book.

I've had pieces picked up and published by a few other websites.  Some that I made submissions to, others completely unsolicited. 

I was featured on BlogHer Food a few weeks back, made the main page feature this week.  I just received notification of another published piece coming from Mamapedia. 

It's been amazing.

Though I really do write for myself almost all of the time, I have to admit that the validation is nice.  The confirmation that what I do here is worth other people's time and energy. 

Now that school is out for the summer, I am committed to taking this next step.  I've begun working on the book already.  It's the fine tuning and putting it all together to be perfect that will take me the longest, I know.

It seems weird for me to say it, but I just really believe that this is going to work.  That this book is going to get picked up by a publisher.  That this is the path it seems I am supposed to be walking.  That this is what I am meant to do.

It feels right.

And at the same time, it feels so strange.

I was never supposed to be a writer, but I am. 

I love what I am doing right now.

I love being a writer.

I've learned quickly that my best writing comes effortlessly.  The days it seems impossible to put the words together are my challenge to overcome.  I promised myself when I started this that I would write something every day, and for the most part I have.  I make mental notes about the things that I see.  I wake up in the middle of the night with ideas.  I write and write and write some days.

At some point on this journey, I went from simply being a person who writes to a writer.

I thank my father for helping nudge me over that edge.

Now it's to be seen whether I can stomach the failure I am destined for.  If I can take the rejections that will be thrown in my face.  I've never been terribly good at failure, in fact I've in large part avoided it throughout my life.  I am going into this next phase of the journey expecting it though.  Anticipating it. 

Knowing that I will hear no over and over before yes.

I'm willing to fail a thousand times if that's what it takes.

I will sell this book.

Don't worry, you can all say you knew me before I was famous.  ;)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mommy needs a drink

Sometimes mommy needs a drink.

Sometimes that drink comes in the form of a jello shot.  Shhh....don't judge

Sometimes it comes as a beer snuck in the basement before noon.

Sometimes it is required since you had to open the bottle of wine to make dinner.

Sometimes it's a mimosa after drop off on the first day of school.

Sometimes it's the liqueur added to the coffee carried around Halloween night.

Sometimes it's the beer that goes with the pizza that the soccer team eats.

Sometimes it's a martini out with friends.

Sometimes it's a margarita on a porch.

Sometimes it's tequila, straight up.

It is always, always well deserved.

To my friends out there, a toast. 

May your children never find your stash of chocolate. 
May you boobs never sag to your knees. 
May your husband never point out the gray hairs on your head. 
May you survive your children's childhoods. 
May you still be crazy enough to make new stories worth telling. 
May your liquor cabinet never be empty. 
May you be surrounded by women who understand.
May you remember that it's always 5 o'clock somewhere.

Cheers!

The Angry Bulgarian

I went to FedEx to ship a package last week.  A big one.  A big giant one.

It takes me months of planning to do that, really.   I promise a friend that I will send her my girls' outgrown clothes, then it takes me at least two months to actually make good on the promise. 

I'm terribly bad at it for some reason.

But I was so proud of myself last week.  I had located a big giant box and crammed it full of stuff to send her.  I'd even taped it and addressed it in the same day.  Shocking, I know.

I loaded it up in the car to take it to FedEx, knowing that it was better for me to go alone.  AJ has this way of dismantling that particular store in 7.3 seconds, then opening at least two packages of candy, which I then am obligated to purchase. 

Kids.

So I went alone, which was a good thing.  If I'd had the kids with me, it would not have been fun.  I would have had to drag the box back to the car and wait even longer to ship it.

No way could I have waited as long as I did with the kids.  No way. 

I walked in, lugging the giant box, to find a couple waiting at the desk with two boxes to ship.  No big deal, right?  It only takes a few minutes per box. And honestly, I didn't care because I didn't have any small humans to supervise.  I can wait.  All good.

Then I heard her.  That voice.  The whining.  The complaining.  The accent.  Even not being able to clearly understand everything she was saying, it was obvious that she was bitching.

The angry Bulgarian.

Behind the counter, one employee.

The lady waiting ahead of me sighed audibly.  We exchanged the mutual look of gosh, she is a pain in the ass!

I was immediately reminded why working in retail sucks ass.

Turns out that the heavily accented whiner had been there a while.  How long, I don't know.  I walked in just as it got good though.  When she'd been given the price to pack and ship all her boxes. 

Over $3200.

Holy crap!

My jaw must have hit the floor because the lady ahead of me giggled.  She'd been there longer than I had and knew how much this whiner was intending to spend to ship her stuff. 

You'd have thought she was shipping something really heavy or expensive.  I guess she'd make that argument, being as she was the one who created the masterpieces.  She was shipping her art (that she'd made) home to Bulgaria.  I use the term art loosely.

She condensed it in a few less boxes, then started whining about how Fedex was charging $20 a box to pack it. Ummm....you are spending over $800 per box to ship it.  I'd err on the side of caution and let them pack it in case something breaks. 

Before she was done, one of the pieces she'd grabbed from the employee's hand broke.  Totally the crazy lady's fault.  Then she wanted to know what FedEx was going to do about it.  How was she going to get her money back for the damage?  Where was the manager?  Could she talk to someone right now?  What is the international claim number?  The poor employee.  I felt really bad for her.  There wasn't much I could do to help her though.

And mostly I just wanted to pay for my box and leave. 

Finally, overwhelmed and sensing that we'd been kept waiting far too long because of this one person's ridiculous demands, she told the angry Bulgarian she had to help the other people waiting.  First she helped the lady in front of me.  Then she took my box. 

I couldn't help but actually laugh out loud when she rang up my total. $23. 

I gladly paid, then wished the angry Bulgarian a nice day as I walked out the door.  And I laughed all the way to the car.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Listen Up, Overcompensators

Is overcompensator even a word?  If it's not, I invented it. 

I've seen it with my own eyes.  I've smelled it's putrid breath.  I've been witness to the crazed behavior it creates.  I've seen how it can intrude upon others.  I've been touched by it. 

At least I wasn't drooled on by it, like someone I know.

Jesus.

So, among the 487 things I did today, I watched my baby girl sing songs with her fellow kindergartners on the last day of their kindergarten lives.  They had a little presentation in the gym amidst all the other stuff going on today.

I knew this, so I got there early.  Hell, who am I kidding?  I was at school the entire day.  But I sat out front of the gym extra early so I could grab front row seats for the little performance.  I was kind enough to save seats for some of the other parents, who happen to be good friends of mine, at least one of which is most certainly dousing herself in bleach this afternoon and no longer thanking me for saving that seat. 

Anyway, I got there early.  Did you get that part?  You know, where you arrive somewhere early enough to get the best seats?  Like, on purpose? 

Okay.  Good. 

I know you are all intelligent enough people to understand that is how it works. 

The row of people directly behind us need a lesson in it.  Apparently.

At some point right before the presentation began,  Ms. Overcompensator sat down.  She whined audibly about the people sitting in front of her who took the best seats.  Hello?  We are sitting two feet away from you.  We can hear you bitching.  And yes, we are snickering at YOU.

Head meet wall.

Then she decided that since she wasn't being given the seats that she so clearly deserved, she would lean all the way forward, perching herself just on the edge of her seat.  The whole time.  Breathing her nasty breath between our heads.

At least during the times when she was sitting. 

Then there were the other times.   

The time she screamed out "good little girl!"  and "pretty girl!" in her screechy voice in the middle of a song to draw her kid's attention for the pictures she insisted on snapping almost continuously.    Good little girl?  What is she?  A dog?  I don't talk to my kids that way, especially not in public.  Sheesh.

The times she practically used my friend's head as a tripod for her camera.   More than once, people.  More than once. 

The pinnacle of her rudeness?  When she leaned over a little too far to wave to the kid and drooled on my tripod friend's hair.  I so wish I was making this up.

I'm sure that everyone who videotaped the performance will be delighted to hear her commentary running through their video constantly.  Because nothing warms the heart of a sentimental parent more than some random chick yapping in the background.

I'm whining, I know.  But I can't stand to have moments that I want to cherish with my kids invaded by rude people.  Especially ones that are so clearly over the top trying to make up for their general lack of presence at everything else all year.  I can honestly say I've never seen this woman before in my life, nor had any of the other moms I talked to. 

Listen up, overcompensators of the world:

I get it, lady.  You're here and you're excited.   This is clearly the only thing you've shown up for all year and need to make sure the kid sees you.   And that everyone else knows you are there.  But don't be rude and interrupt everything.  Unless you actually have Tourette's, you can't just blurt shit stuff out in the middle of a performance by 6 year olds.  And please, don't drool on people.  That's just nasty.

I couldn't help but feel sorry for the girl she was there to see.  Poor thing.  She's still young enough to be clueless about how embarrassing her family was today.   That's going to change.

Someday, she's going to be mortified.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

July, anyone?

Everywhere I look, everywhere I go.  June.

June.  June.  June.

Only a few days left of May, it's knocking on my door.  Ready or not.

Infiltrating my email inbox, signs posted in the stores.  Soon the Sunday paper will do it too. 

The commercials will start. 

The rows and rows of cards that I will never buy again.

It is a lot like how I felt after I'd lost the baby and felt like every.single.woman in the world was pregnant but me.

Except now, what I see are little old men.  Grandfathers picking up their grandkids from school.  Family outings at the park. 

I know that my radar is just heightened.  I know that I'm just more sensitive to it all right now.  I know that June comes every year and brings that day with it. 

Him walking me down the aisle, in June of course.
I know this. 

But it doesn't make it easier.

Last Father's Day, he was still here.  He opened a gift from my kids like he did every year.   He answered a phone call from me.   He was loved on by my baby nephew.  He was still here. 

How am I supposed to get through Father's Day without one?

I don't know.  

I will have to, somehow. 

I'll remember all the lessons my Dad taught me, including those he was still working on at the end.  I'll honor the memories, cherish the time I have with my own kids as he did with us. 

I'll drop whatever I am doing to toss a ball in the backyard, play 3 day long marathon games of Monopoly.   I'll teach my kids to keep score at a baseball game, I'll show my son how to throw a hook with a bowling ball. 

I'll watch some NASCAR, just like I did with him every weekend it was on.  I might even pretend to be interested this time.

I'll open a can of Coors Light and send a toast up to the sky. 

I'll miss him something fierce, though. 

June isn't going to be the same without him.  Never will be again.

I'd like to just skip straight to July this time around, if that's okay with all the rest of you.

Shock and Awe

Living with a man and having children have served in my life as constant reminders of the fact that I need to, from time to time, let my crazy out. 

You haven't seen my crazy, I assure you. 

Okay, so a few of you have.

For those who've been at the mercy of my crazy before, you understand why it is something to be feared.

I've been told I am scary.

There's a tone of my voice that is reserved only for the crazy. 

Back when I started working as a doula, I partnered up with one of my best friends in our joint endeavor.  It was good almost all the time.  All those warnings from other people about how you should never work with family or friends were clearly mistaken.  Until one day.  I don't honestly even remember what triggered it, but at some point we ended up screaming at each other. 

Two grown women, full on yelling.

You'd think that might cause a rift between us.  Actually, it didn't.  At all, shockingly.  We both understood that we had to let the crazy out.  And, at that particular moment in time, the person who needed to receive the crazy was also throwing it back. 

Sometimes you just have to do it. 

Like when you come home from the grocery store to a house that looks as if a tornado hit it, while your husband is calmly sitting on the couch reading a book, oblivious to the chaos everywhere.

Or when the kid's room that you just spent 3 hours cleaning up resembles a disaster area the next day. 

There are plenty of reasons that the crazy is released, for sure.

I've learned, though, that you can't let your crazy out all the time.  You can't overuse it or people will start to ignore it.  Become numb to it.  Then it won't work anymore.

You have to tuck it away and save it for the times when you really need it. 

Your crazy also has to be impressive enough to stop them in their tracks.  The release of the crazy isn't a time for holding back.  It's an all out declaration of war. 

And it's extremely effective, when used properly.  ;)

Shock and Awe, people. Shock and Awe.

Raising a kid is part joy and part guerrilla warfare ~ Ed Asner

Monday, May 23, 2011

Is he into you?

Sure, there are ways to tell if a guy isn't into you.  There's a book and a movie about it, even.  But how can you tell if he is? 

It can be hard to tell.  Especially if you've turned into an old married couple like we have.  Or if you are in the uncertain stages of a new relationship.  It's not like men come with a manual.  Lord knows we sure don't.  And these aren't the signs that we're trained to look for.  These are the ones that matter, though. 

Seems like these days, I have friends in every stage imaginable in their relationships. 

Some are still in the holy crap this is exciting and fun and new stage.  I miss that stage. 

Others, like me, have been with their husband for what seems like forever.  Though there are certainly moments (okay maybe even weeks) of imperfection, there are still the times when I catch his eye from across the room and know I'm supposed to be with him. 

Maybe I'm just all gushy with love and adoration of him because he vacuumed and ran to the liquor store for margarita mix and tequila in the same day. 

Note to all the guys out there: do chores It makes y'all way more appealing

Seriously.  I can't think of many things sexier than a man who dusts. 

And I've digressed. 

The whole point of this was supposed to be that when a guy really is into you, you can tell.  Like, when he brings you home paint samples because he truly understands your crazy.

Or when he tapes the shows he knows you'll want to see without you asking first.

Or when he downloads the new album from your favorite artist.

Or when he fixes the electronic devices you yell at.

You know a guy is into you when he cooks for you.  You know he loves you when he makes dessert.  You know he is head over heels when he'll take on something like risotto. 

Or when he invites you along to fish or golf or play poker.

Guys don't just invite girls along for those things unless they really, really, really like you.

You know he's into you when he talks about getting a pet together.  No lie, that is a huge commitment for a guy.

You know he's really fallen hard when you start a fund to buy a pig.  Not kidding, I know someone actually in this process.

You know he's into you when he makes sure you meet his friends.  Even the ones that happen to be other women, and especially the ones who aren't unattractive.

You know he's madly in love with you when he has you meet his family, especially the crazy ones. 

You know he's into you if he'll go see a chick flick in the theater. 

You know he loves you if he actually paid attention.

These are just some of the ways to tell if he's really into you.  A little unconventional, yes.  But accurate.

Trust me.

While I wasn't looking

While I wasn't looking, my baby became a young man. 

The fragile boy that was born too early, the one that caused my husband to drive extra slow and cautious on the way home from the hospital.  The little boy who used to sleep with every single stuffed animal he owned.  The one who coated his entire room with diaper rash cream once.  The toddler that became a big brother.  The little boy wearing a giant backpack on his way to school for the first time. 

I still see those little boys sometimes when I look at the one who's almost as tall as I am these days.

Him.

Last year on his birthday
My oldest is getting older.  With only three days left of 4th grade, he'll soon be the big man on campus.  The elementary equivalent of a senior.

The big kid.  The ones that the little preschoolers look up to, and can never imagine being.  It doesn't seem like so long ago that he was one of them.

Now I'm counting days until his last year of school here.  His last official year of being just a kid.

It's cliche, I know, but it really does go by too fast. 

As moms, we get so caught up in the daily routine chaos that we lose track sometimes of the years flying by.  Days last forever, but then you wake up one morning and your baby wants a cell phone.

All of a sudden you realize that they've changed, they are different.

How did that happen?

He'll be ten in a few days.  Double digits.  Not that I am ready for that. 

For his birthday, he wanted things that a 10 year old would want.  Not things that a little boy would want.  He wanted a watch and a new pair of sunglasses that fit his head.  The ones in the kid's section don't anymore. 

He's not just a kid anymore.

He wanted a wallet, a new one.  The Spiderman one he's carried with him almost everywhere since he was 4 isn't good enough anymore.  Too juvenile.

He didn't ask for toys.  He wanted a science book. 

What he asked for, he received. 

What I want though is for time to slow down a little.  For him to stay a kid just a while longer. 

Just a while.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Ruffle Conspiracy

I noticed something a few months ago, around the same time that a good friend of mine noticed the same thing.  Something that is very, very, very wrong. 

Something that was still wrong when I was out again yesterday. 

Something that clearly points to a conspiracy.

We'd both been looking for clothes for the new Spring/Summer season, for ourselves.  Which is just weird to begin with since both of us tend to buy our kids far more than we ever get for ourselves.  Neither of us had much luck. 

So much for good intentions. 

The reason we both walked out of stores empty handed? 

Ruffles.  Ruffles as far as the eye could see.  It seems like every single top, tank, dress and even sweater this year has a ruffle on it somewhere.

Just one of the 673 ruffled shirts available
at your local Kohl's right now. 
I don't wear ruffles.

I have this opinion that grown women should not.  There should be an age limit on them.   And for god's sake, a size limit.   It's hard to pull off layers intended to make you look flowy and drapey and delicate when you aren't under 105 pounds.

Trust me on this one.

The designers appear to disagree.  They are trying to force us into ruffles, largely by not making much of anything else. 

I wish that there were more places locally to find affordable (okay, just plain cheap) clothes for me.  A woman in her 30's that doesn't want to dress like a 5 year old.  I wish that the retailers around here would jump off the bandwagon they seem to be on.  Every designer they carry in the stores here seems to be thinking the same thoughts.  Those thoughts clearly include no fewer than two consecutive seasons of ruffles. 

I like variety.

Classic lines.  Coordinating pieces.  Maybe a print.  Maybe.  But it would have to be an age appropriate print, not something that looks like a child should be wearing it.  Or like something that appeals to women over the age of 65. 

What happens to your fashion sense, by the way, when you get old?  I wonder about that.  Sure, there are some older ladies out there rocking their outfits.  But most of them settle into polyester and appliques and loud obnoxious prints and sensible shoes.  Note to self: never buy polyester.

Designers of the world....I implore you to stop this madness.  Break the pact you seem to have with one another.  Dress us better.  Please.

No more ruffles.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Sharing my love affair with science

A few weeks back, Aidan brought a book home from the school library.  He was obsessed with it and started asking me questions about things in it. 

It's essentially a science textbook, written at about a middle school level.  It has three sections: physics, chemistry and biology. 

The reason he got it?  He asked me just a few days before then what the periodic table was, and I told him to find a book about it. 

I don't just answer his questions.  I often make him find the answers.

And this is what he brought home.
He was sad that he'd found this so close to the end of the year, he knew he'd only be able to keep it for a week then have to return it for good.  No more books can be checked out this school year. 

He wondered if they were selling this one at the book fair.  I told him to find out, and find out how much it cost.  Then we'd talk about it.  Even though I knew already that he was getting the book.

Tom picked the kids up from school one day last week and stopped in to buy the book.  Aidan brought it home like it was treasure. 

Yesterday he asked when I could start helping him learn about it.  He knows that some of the concepts in the book are too complicated and need some explaining.  And he knows that his mom is the one to ask.  Yesterday, we went over ecosystems, food chains, deforestation, habitats and the carbon cycle. 

Can I just tell you how excited I am that he is into this?!?!  Seriously dorking out. 

I love science.  LOVE it. 

I should have been a science major.  I wrote my senior thesis on the overfishing of sharks in international water.  I was a public policy major, not an oceanography or marine biology major. 

This is one of the parts of motherhood I've really been looking forward to.  He's asking me intricate questions about things I really understand and can explain.  He's starting to love science as much as I do.  He wants to learn, and it's awesome. 

If he wants to learn calculus, he's out of luck though.  Mommy didn't do so well in that subject.  ;)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Stop Cleaning This Instant! Jesus doesn't care if your dishes are dirty!

The end is near, so say a smallish group of fringe Christians.  The rapture officially on schedule for tomorrow.

Shoot. 

I have plans for Sunday.

The end's been near before.  Remember all the fuss over Y2K that Y2forgot.to.show.up?

The end of the world has been slated for plenty of other times.

Does anyone else think the Mayans are kinda pissed at the hype this Rapture nonsense is getting?   They so had the 2012 market cornered.

I just cleaned my kitchen.  About halfway through I thought that maybe it wasn't worth it.  Maybe we should all stop cleaning and enjoy what's left of today.  Just in case.  Wink, wink.

Sounds like a pretty good idea to me.

Jesus probably doesn't care if you have dirty dishes.

Except that this whole rapture idea isn't for all of us.  It's only for the "believers".  The rest of us get to stay here while the world falls apart.  Or whatever.

Too bad I'm a heathen and won't get to make the trip. 

Dammit, I still have to clean the kitchen.

Here's a funny post I saw floating around the internet about all the reasons why the Rapture isn't happening.  I especially love #3.  Sheesh Kanye....gotta go messing this up too....

Kids are gross

Really, they are.

It's one of those things they should warn you about. 

Every new parent anticipates changing diapers and occasional spit up...but there is so much more nasty to having kids.  So.much.more.

There are things that will come out of your children you could have never imagined.

And at least one parent has to have an iron stomach. You can't both be sympathetic barfers.  Do not laugh, I'm being completely serious.  Someone has to clean it up. 

When you are dating, it should be one of the things you discuss with a potential spouse. 

Like, in the order of priority:
1) what is your overall philosophy on life?
2) how do you enjoy occupying your free time?
3) does seeing or smelling vomit make you hurl?

I urge you to ask that question before you have kids. 

It doesn't help that I have a herd of them.  This year, I have three entire classes of nasty to worry about.  It's not just my kids and their propensity to acquire germs that is the issue, it's all their classmates that bring stuff to school to share. 

Why do we teach them to share????

Next year, it's going to be four of them.  Four petri dishes that I willingly place my kids in with regularity.  Yippee.

I keep telling myself that at some point, it will get better.  Childhood immunity works that way.  Eventually they get most of the viruses that are passed around, and the lifelong wonder of immunity as a result.  It seems to have worked on Aidan, and even Ashley a little, this year.  They haven't been sick hardly as much as the little ones. 

Of course, Aidan still missed the equivalent of almost a month of school.  Clearly I am delusional. 

Whenever something comes into my house and gets passed around, I feel like we should be good for a while after.  Like we've paid our cosmic barfing dues for the year and should be granted a pass for a while. 

Never seems to happen that way though. 

And people laugh.  Tell me how I remind them to take their birth control.  Ha, ha, ha.  Glad I can help.

I don't need that reminder though, at least not when the kids are sick.   I had two kids and a barf bowl in my bed last night.  There ain't nothing else going on.

Ah, motherhood. 

Ain't it grand?

Today, I'd like to give a shout out to the people at Kenmore.  The ones who clearly have had children, and in their infinite wisdom created a sanitary cycle on the washing machine.   Makes my life a little less nasty.

I said a little.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

30 Days of Music - Day 30

Day 30 - What was your favorite song at this time last year?

See, now I knew this challenge was going to suck. 

A year ago, I heard this song for the first time in the car and immediately related to it.  I found myself doing what it says too many times to count. 

Except that none of the wishes I made on airplanes were granted. 

I try very hard to not be angry about losing my father.  I do.  I know that with time, he came to a place of peace and acceptance with what was happening.  He had time to say his goodbyes and tie up his loose ends.  He had time to sit and talk with each of his siblings. 

If there is such a thing as dying well, he did it. 

But I'm still angry.  I want him back.  I want him healthy.  I want him to see his grandchildren grow up.  I want him here, even if just to meet the next one.

I struggle with feeling sorry for people who are just now losing grandparents and older.  Mourning the loss of someone who went peacefully at 90 years old just seems inconsistent.  They had their long life.  That isn't something that should be mourned, really.  It should be celebrated.

It's those who go too soon that we should mourn.  The ones that could have used a wish.  

I know I made more than a few that never came true.

I do love this song, I probably always will.  Still, it hurts to hear.  A reminder of what I couldn't do to help him.

This is a fitting way for this challenge to end.  I miss you, Daddy.

Airplanes, B.o.B. feat. Hayley Williams

The 80's called....

I had occasion to revisit the 80's yesterday. 

It happens from time to time.  Most recently when the kids came across an old picture of Tom and asked what was up with his hair.  He had a mullet.

Correction.  It was just short in the front and long in the back.  It totally wasn't a mullet.  Right.

Not too long before that, the kids found a picture of me.  Shudder.  I was wearing....wait for it.....a purple jumpsuit with a fluorescent geometric print shirt.  Hell yeah.  More impressive than the outfit was the hair.  Oh, the hair. 

Which color was your Aqua Net can?  Mine was the teal, the best one.  And I went through more than a few curling irons back then.  They'd get coated with a thick layer of goop from repeatedly being sprayed.  I think it is funny that now, as an adult, I can curl ALL the hair on my head, even do an up-do, in less time than it took me just to create the wave back then.  You all know what I'm talking about.  Don't even pretend you didn't have the wave.  We all did.  It was a good time to be an investor in the aerosol can industry. 

I asked a simple question on my Facebook fan page yesterday and within a hour had a ton of replies.  What was the worst fashion trend of the 80's?  Shoulder pads?  Giant t-shirts tied at the hip with leggings?  Jeans rolled up on the bottom?  There are so many. 

I almost managed to get those atrocious hyper glow shirts out of my memory banks.  They're back clearly in my mind now too, thanks to one of the replies.  You know the shirts, the ones that changed color with heat???  Because everyone wants a visual image of your sweaty regions, right?   Who thought that was a good idea? 

And yes, I had one.

I never did get a pair of Cavaricci's though.  Sigh.  Somehow I've managed to survive. 

I was a little surprised that this particular item wasn't mentioned on that list yesterday. 

Hey AJ....are you a member?
Perhaps I should have specified fashion trends for guys. 

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is indeed a Members Only jacket.  A red one, no less.  AJ found it at Grandma and Papa's house yesterday, she'd dressed a doll in it years ago.  AJ found the doll and stole the jacket.

And yeah, of course it was Tom's.  Of course.

Because it's awesome.

Dude.  The 80's called, they want their stuff back.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

30 Days of Music - Day 29

Day 29 - What is a song from your childhood?

Oh so many. 

Like most people I suppose, there is a soundtrack of my life.  Songs that mean something to me from a time and place in my past. 

When I first thought of doing this challenge, this is the song that popped into my head first. 

Not sure why really, except that maybe I will always associate this song with the my extended family, at least when I was little.  Living dangerously, partying hard, raising hell.  All that. 

This song, was, I believe, my uncle's favorite.  Or it should be.  I can't listen to anything by Rod Stewart without thinking of him.

Uncle Kev.

The jeep driving, teeny OP shorts wearing, beer drinking, cool uncle.  (Okay, so in all fairness, that really could be a description for any of them at one point or another).

I really do have a pretty awesome family. 

This is the song that immediately makes me think about that time we were all out in the desert camping.   I remember the smell...must have been the trip out by Salton Sea.   The sand rails and motorcycles and trucks that rolled backwards down the hills they didn't make it up.  Taking the camper shells off the trucks, taking the tops off the Jeeps.  Shooting beer cans just for the hell of it.  

I must have been about 7 or so back then.  Old enough to know that adrenaline is a ridiculous high.    Strapped into the backseat of his Jeep with my cousins on one of those mornings, Uncle Kev at the wheel.   Flying through a ravine, we caught a boulder wrong and flipped. 

We landed almost completely upside down.  A trickling stream beneath us, we could just touch it from where we landed.  Three little girls, hanging upside down, laughing until we cried.  We weren't scared.  At all.

Just like we weren't scared when that ride broke at Fiesta days and we were stuck upside down waiting for them to repair it.  The hammerhead.  Ahhh.

Those were the days.

This is the song I remember hearing more than any other one from back then.  And the song that will forever make me think of Uncle Kev.   About sitting around campfires way too late.  Of the time when it still really was all good. 

Hot Legs,  Rod Stewart


Hurried Random Thoughts on a Wednesday Morning

I have no time today.  Like, none.

There are people in my life who always tell me they are too busy, and I shake my head in silent agreement with them, knowing that they really aren't anywhere near as busy as they think they are.  Or want other people to be.

But whatever.  It's frustrating for those of us who truly need at least 6 more hours in a day just to get everything done.

I've been up an hour already trying to get everything ready for today.  You know, all the stuff I didn't get around to yesterday.

The last Daisy meeting of the year is today, after a 5 hour long field trip that I am going on with Ally, but not before I have to drive AJ to his grandparents' house so they can attempt to keep him alive while I'm insanely busy.  Oh, and there is some other thing at school after the field trip, but I can't honestly remember what it is, just that I have to be there. 

Can't forget to have Ashley take her giant butterfly.  Mental note.

May is chaos.  It's just crazy busy.  I barely have time to do what I have to, let alone do what I want to.  Can hardly even think straight.

One more week and this school year will be done.  Though right now, I am feeling excited to not be so busy, I'm also dreading the whininess of boredom.  (Yes, that is a word.  I totally just made it up.)

I should find out at least one of the kids' teachers for next year today, the others will come home in the folders tomorrow.  Then Friday.  Oh Friday.  Commonly known around these parts as "Freak Out Friday", where it seems like half the parents at the school get their panties in a wad over the teacher they are assigned, grab their pitchforks and head to school. 

And people wonder why I don't want to really get back into education.

It's not the kids.  Trust me.

I still have four lunches to make and a bag to pack for the little boy.  Three of the kids are still sleeping, which makes all the sense in the world.  They get up at 6am when I don't want them to, but the day I need them up, zzzzzz.

Sorry for the brevity and discombobulation this morning.  I don't have time to organize my thoughts.

Maybe tomorrow, but probably not. 

Just saying.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

30 Days of Music - Day 28

Day 28 - What is a song that makes you feel guilty?

I've been thinking about this one a lot today.

I have a handful of regrets in this life.  Things that I would take back if I could.  Only one of them has a song attached to it though.  And it's this one. 

Ironically, I wrote about this regret already.  In that last challenge I did.  The 30 Days of Truth.  You can read it here, if you're inclined.   

He gave me a CD for Christmas, a movie soundtrack.  He knew I would love it.  This song was on it.  I've never been able to listen to it without thinking about what I did to him.

Blaze of Glory, Jon Bon Jovi

Sideshow Kelly

I entertained no fewer than eight complete strangers yesterday.  It could have been more.  I'm not sure.  I tried not to count.

That happens though.  A few weeks ago, I took all the kids to the doctor's office, which is something that I highly recommend to anyone who thinks they've mastered parenting by the way. 

We were called back to the exam rooms and were walking through the doorway at the same time a mother with a little girl was walking out.  I want to say she was 4 or 5.  She pointed at my children, in order of height, obediently walking in a line like little ducks in a row, then said:

 Oooooh, Mommy, LOOK!  It's a circus.

Yep.  That's me.  I'm officially a sideshow.

Happened again yesterday, even though I only had the little one with me.  We got into a full blown argument in the store.

Seems like I have already had more than my fair share of them with him. 

This boy.  Wow.  He's going to test me in ways that I never could have anticipated. 

He's lucky he's cute.
I had to run to the store yesterday while all the others were at school.  I had to get a few completely random things, and that kind of shopping can only be accomplished by running all over town or by going to one of the dreaded big box stores.

Where else can you buy seed packets, tank tops, bread and toilet cleaner at once?

When you have a two year old like this one, you multitask.  Trust me.

We were walking from one end of the unnecessarily huge store to the other, and passed by the baby section.  I had no occasion to peruse the aisles in that department. 

We are working on potty training the boy.  A whole different kind of fun.

That's about when the argument happened.

The boy pointed at the rows and rows of diapers and told me to get him some.

I said this. You're a big boy now.  You go pee pee on the potty. 

He balled up his little fists and announced to everyone in a 50 foot radius that he was a baby, and he needed more diapers.  He said that last part in his angry voice....whatever that is for a two year old.

I told him that babies can't go to preschool.  And babies don't get to munch on Happy Meals while strolling through the store.  And babies can't ride scooters.  And babies can't talk or demand that their mother buy more diapers.

He shook his head and screamed ME BABY!

I looked around.  People were amused, pretending to go on with their business, pretending that they weren't paying attention, pretending not to laugh. 

Glad we could entertain the shoppers.  That's what I'm here for.

I didn't buy any diapers, not that I was planning to in the first place.

I'd like to say that I won.  That I took a victory lap around the baby section while the people who were laughing cheered me on. 

I'd like to say that.

He peed on the carpet when we got home.

I'm thinking he won.

Monday, May 16, 2011

30 Days of Music - Day 27

Day 27 - What is a song that you wish you could play on an instrument?

Well, given yesterday's completely pathetic answer, this one is an easy one to answer.

Anything.  By anyone. 

The Unreasonable Expectations We Put On Ourselves

A few weeks ago, we had to sit the kids down and warn them in advance that this summer was going to suck.  There weren't going to be lots of fun camps and classes, there weren't going to be expensive leagues to join and things to do. 

We'd be going to the pool and the library, the parks and the free events in town. 

So much for the promises that we made them last year about how awesome this summer was going to be. 

We're tapped out.  Spent a not-so-small fortune in all the trips we made back and forth across the country to see my father, then to get everyone out there for the services after he passed.  Then there is the matter of the most expensive three week long trip ever, the story of which begins here.  As if the fact that it happened during Christmastime wasn't enough. 

There's not much left to do anything extra. 

I felt bad about that for a while.  Really, I did.  The kids have had summers filled with camps and craft clubs and music lessons and swim teams.  They know how much stuff they can do.  They see what their friends do. 

Then I realized how ridiculous it all is and stopped feeling so bad about it.

I stopped apologizing to my children.

How ridiculous are we all as parents? 

How many completely unnecessary things do we deem necessary?

How high do we set the expectations we put on ourselves to be "good" parents?

How much do we push ourselves to make things perfect for them?

Kids don't need expensive craft camps to be happy.  They just need some finger paint or a few rolls of tape.

For the price that $250/week LEGO camp cost, you could buy a ton of LEGOs to keep all the time.

They don't need to join expensive swimming teams to get wet.  Give them a hose and see what happens in the backyard.

They don't need to go away to overnight camp to have a good childhood.  Plenty of us never went, yet somehow we survived.

I need, we all need, to stop believing that we can make our kid's lives better by paying someone else to entertain them for a few hours. 

We need to stop thinking that the only path to raising successful adults is filled with perfectly balanced schedules of enrichment. 

We need to stop.

Kids need time to just be kids.  They need time to play with their friends outside of these activities.  To just play.

They need time to build forts and go on nature hikes and chase each other with the hose in the backyard. 

They also need to know what downtime is.  What boredom is like.  How to occupy themselves quietly for hours at a time.  They need to read.  To draw.  To lay on their backs in the grass and find things in the clouds. 

We need to stop believing that we need to entertain them all the time. 

I don't want to start sounding like the crotchety old fart that I really am, but it's the truth.  When we were kids, how many of us had carefully scripted summer vacations?  How many of our parents made sure that our programs didn't overlap or leave too many gaps?  How many of our parents spent every day in the car shuttling us all over town every day for three months?

I'd bet not too many.  I know this because while I was home bored all summer, my friends were there with me.  They weren't hard to plan play dates with because of their schedules.  They were bored too. 

I'm hoping that there are at least a few people out there who will understand what I mean.  I'm hoping my kids might have friends around this summer who aren't always busy. 

Because we won't be.

We'll be hanging out at the pool.  We'll be playing in the backyard.  We'll be at the park.  We'll be reading every afternoon.  We'll be having fun chasing each other with the hose rather than focusing on who needs to go where when.

This summer isn't going to suck. 

In fact, it just might be what we all need right about now.

Downtime.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

So, yeah

I'm not real good at hiding my emotions, at least not for prolonged periods of time. 

I'm trying to.  I've been trying to do that for a long time now.

In fact, I've done such a good job that most people have no idea what I'm even talking about.

Starting to wonder what the point of trying is anyway.

There just comes a point when you can't take it anymore.  You can only fake it for so long.

Getting close.

Damn close.

This is a place I never imagined being at this point in my life.  At least I'd always hoped I wouldn't be.

So much for that.

I didn't get to choose.

What I do get to choose, though, it where to go from here.

I just hope I'm doing the right thing.

Whatever that is.

Cryptic enough?

Ha.

I'll work on being funny.  I've sucked at that lately.

30 Days of Music - Day 26

Day 26 - What is a song you can play on an instrument?

Oh, my readers.  Prepare to be vastly disappointed.

I can't play any instruments.  I can't sight read music.  I took piano lessons for a while, but if I was to sit on a bench and tap on the keys today, there are only a handful of songs I could play.

That bad.

Mary Had a Little Lamb

Angst Ridden Man Child

My son will be 10 in a week or so.  Officially a pre-teen.

He's only got a few days left of 4th grade.  Then he'll be the big man on campus.  He'll be one of the 5th graders.

After that, middle school.

I can hear you all groaning from here. 

God, I hated junior high.

I love my son and he really is a good kid.  Really.  Like, he is such a good kid that other people compliment me about him all the time.  He doesn't get in trouble at school.  He behaves for other people.  He's a great kid.

But there have been more than a few moments already that I have questioned my ability to put up with his preteen crap.

I'm not loving this drama.

It started about a year ago.  One day he went from being just a kid to this.  This angst ridden man child who's almost as tall as I am.

He's back to whining.  He complains.  He's too tired to do what I ask of him. 

He drives me crazy with asking to call people, asking to go somewhere.  Asking, asking, asking.

He pushes the limits of what he's allowed to do.  Occasionally, he crosses that line.

Occasionally he lies.  And he always gets caught.  Then he gets in more trouble for lying than whatever else he did that he was lying about.

And those are the times that I wish I could go back to the days when putting him in a timeout was enough.  Where I could take away his favorite toy and he'd learn.  Where I could send him to his room and know that he'd just sit in his bed. 

Now, he's pushing my buttons.  I have to take away more and more things.  More privileges.  I can't just send him to his room.  That's where he wants to be...all his stuff is in there.  And he's got a lot of it. 

He was going to get a TV for his birthday.  Now, I'm not so sure. 

In fact, I'm pretty sure that's not happening.

I find myself less and less sure what to do with him these days.

Thing is, I know it's only going to get worse.  And I'm sure that whatever he puts me through will seem small and insignificant compared to what his sisters will pull.  As much as I'm not loving this stage with him, I am dreading it with the girls.

He'll get through this stage, I know.  We both will. 

I just have to keep my sanity until then.

I need to save my strength too.  The girls are following right behind him.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Tales of a Frozen Soccer Mom

Today was the last day of the Spring season for my girls and their soccer teams.

And we were out there, clutching our coffee cups like they were our lifelines.  Blankets intended for sitting on thrown over chilly legs.  Mittens and coats worn on the field.

It was 41 degrees at the first game.  43 at the second, but with a breeze.  Even more awesome.

It is May.  Hello????

Spring forgot to show up, even on the last day of the soccer season.

Ccccccold.

It was okay though.  My girls....they were on fire. 

En fuego.

My little one, the feisty girl.  She was up first.  Though she scored a goal in her very first season playing soccer, it had been a while since she'd done it again.  She scored one a few weeks back on the day that I firmly held my couch down because the world was spinning.  Some stomach virus prevented me from witnessing her second goal of all time. 

She made up for it today. 

She scored four.  FOUR!  I know, right?
Ally, basking in the glow of adoration
from her crowd after one of her goals.
She's pretty awesome.  I have a feeling she's going to be a damn good soccer player one of these days.  She's fast and scrappy.   She has had no reservations taking on teams full of boys, and scored more goals than the boys on hers combined today.  I can't wait to see what she does when she's only up against the girls.

Then it was Ashley's turn.  She's had a tough season.  Her asthma has prevented her from getting to about half the practices.  She has learned to push herself only as far as her body can take it though.  She knows now when she can take on playing offense, and when she needs to hang back on defense.  She's embraced the position of goalie and is rocking it.  She took a ball to the face last week and held her ground. 

I'm more than a little terrified when she's wearing that bright orange jersey in the box, but she loves it. 

Today she didn't play goalie, but she pushed herself to play forward as long as she could, even knowing it meant she'd be dragging by halftime and need to use her inhaler again.  Unlike last season, she never told coach she couldn't do it.  She never tried to sit out.  She never avoided the running or the confrontations. 

She got in there and ran and played her heart out. 

This season has been a turning point for her team.  The strongest players will probably always be just that, but the ones on the fence like Ashley seem to have their minds made up.  They are going to play, and they are going to learn, and they are going to be great.  And they are.

Next season?  Inter-league.  A whole new ballgame, but one that must be played.  If the girls keep loving soccer as much as they do now, and they want to take their skills to the next level, they have to be pushed. 

The whole team is going up.  All of them.

Which is amazing.

Things like that don't just happen in youth sports.  We've been blessed to have a great group of girls who compliment each other's abilities perfectly, a devoted set of parents and a kick ass coach.

Yeah, Hector....you got another shout out. 

If you'd stop being awesome, I'd stop writing about you.  ;)

The season is over, and I get a little more sentimental every time.   It's okay, though.  Practice will start soon enough.  The girls will be ready.

Teams of Northern Colorado, consider this your warning. 

The Pumas are coming.

30 Days of Music - Day 25

Day 25 - What is a song that makes you laugh?

How about this one?  It's ridiculous.

I'm Too Sexy, Right Said Fred

Friday, May 13, 2011

It Is Time

I am currently sitting in my garage. Door open. Birds chirping. Soft white puffy clouds floating by. It is a beautiful spring morning.

It should be. Days like today should be beautiful.

On the driveway, my Jake. For the first time in his life, he is being the dog that I always dreamt of one day having. The dog that could sit by my side without a leash and behave. The dog that would stay.right.here. The dog that would be my silent companion.

I wish he wasn’t.

I wish he was still freaking out every time he got out in the front yard. I wish he was bringing me a tennis ball every two seconds. I wish he was trotting around the yard smelling everything like he usually does.

Today, though, he is different. Reserved. Quiet. Observant.

He is scared.

And I think he knows what is coming.

At my feet, my Maddie. My first baby girl. The puppy we brought home to fill a void in our lives. She fit in the palms of our hands then.
My girl, before her injury

She was just about the cutest thing ever. We were initiated into parenthood by her. She was the reason we went to our first playgroups and park dates. We planned our vacations around her. She slept in our bed when she would cry at night.

She grew up to be a playful dog, even if she didn’t much like any other dogs. She was a good girl almost all the time. She eventually came to love her new companion, Jake, even if he did drive her crazy for a while with his boundless energy. She howled a lot for a lot of years as beagles do, but as she began to get older, that happened less and less.

When we left in a hurry to drive to California for Thanksgiving two years ago, we left Jake and Maddie here. A phone call while we were gone. She was hurt.

Those years of chasing balls and eating everything in sight had caught up to her. Her knee was blown out.

She wasn’t in pain, the vet said, but she would probably never walk normally again. She was too old, and too overweight, to even attempt the surgery.

So we built ramps and shoveled the snow off the patios and grass for her. We carried her up stairs, we brought the food to her. With time, her leg healed and she could bear some weight on it.

Then the cycle began. It would heal, she’d re-injure it. Over and over.

She just wanted to play again. And she couldn’t.

Lately, she’s been struggling more to walk. Her front legs showing the strain of bearing her weight for too long. I started to wonder if her hearing and sight were going too. I thought maybe they were.

The kids learned to be gentle with her. To move slowly. To sit and talk to her. To bring her treats.

They knew what was coming soon. We all did.

Today, it is time.

Just yesterday, Aidan asked me what happens to your body just before you die. He knows that I know this, that I’ve seen it, and that I will tell him. And I did.

The body purges itself.

Aidan was the first to find her this morning. She couldn’t get up, there was a mess everywhere. He knew immediately what it meant.

He knew it was time.

It’s time to let my girl go home to the place where she can run and play again. Where she is whole and young and free.

The appointment has been made, arrangements put in place. Her Daddy and I will be with her when she goes.

Here we sit, one last time. Her head at my feet. The minutes ticking by so slowly.

She wants to go play again.

And I have to let her go.

It is time.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My Son Broke Up With Baseball

Aidan said he didn't really want to play this year.

With heavy hearts, we accepted his decision.
Aidan's last game last year
He's played every year since T-ball started.  Every summer's schedule has been dictated by practices and games.  I've spent many afternoons sitting in bleachers watching the sky, wondering at what point they actually call a game for lightning.

I've cheered for my little boy at every at-bat.  I remember vividly the day that it clicked for him.  The day that he realized that you are supposed to play your position and not run all over the field chasing the ball.  That's an elusive concept in baseball.

The day that he learned how to hit from a pitch.  The first time he threw someone out.  I remember them too.
After scoring a run
 He strapped on catcher's gear that was way too big for him years ago.  Last year, it was getting tight.

This year, there will be no squinting in the afternoon sun, trying to find the pop fly.  There will be no crisp white pants, dirtied the second he steps foot on the diamond.  There will be no panicked hunts for his cleats and glove and hat.

There will be no baseball.

He doesn't love it anymore.  I'm not sure he ever really did, to be honest.  He played because that's what little boys do.  He's a far better spectator than athlete.  He will sit and keep a scorecard at the Rockies games with his Dad, but lost interest quickly when his own team was on the field.

The girls have both mentioned wanting to play.  Ashley plays so many sports already that adding another one to her repertoire would be overwhelming.  Ally will probably get signed up next year to play baseball on a team made up of almost all boys.  She'll like it that way.  But It won't be the same.

When I was pregnant with Aidan, I imagined what life with a son would be like.  Those visions included afternoons tossing a ball in the yard.  Pep talks before games.  New trophies and grins from ear to ear. 

For years I got to live that part of the dream with my boy. 

Tom did too.  He even helped coach.  As much as he'll try to say he didn't love it, he did.   The parents drove him crazy, I'll vouch for that for sure.  But he loved being on the field with the boys.

It wasn't just Aidan playing baseball out there.

This year, he's done.  Maybe it's because his season was cut short last year because of his injuries, surgery and recovery.  It wasn't fun to do much of anything last year.  Maybe this is just an off year.  Maybe he'll want to play again.

Maybe.

When I have driven past the fields these last few weeks, full of teams of little boys practicing, I can't help but miss it.  I miss the smell of the chalk.  I miss the butterflies when he's stepping to the plate.  I miss parking the van on his glove overnight to soften the leather. 

I miss baseball.  And I miss the little boy who played it every summer.

These are the things that no one ever warns you about when you have kids.  The things that you don't anticipate being as hard as they are.  Kids grow up, entire phases of their lives over before you even realize it.  One day, they are just done.

How ridiculous am I that I am crying right now writing this???  There is no crying in baseball!

I'm glad I get another go with it.  I'm glad I get to have my life dictated by baseball again.

AJ's already asking when he can play, and we are counting the months until he can.

Cheer for every game as if it's their last.  It just might be.

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