Friday, October 8, 2010

I am aware that I am whining...

Sometimes a person just feels like whining. My eyes hurt from staring at a computer screen for days on end. My brain hurts from having to use it all week, to pull knowledge from the far recesses. My mouth hurts from having to speak and lecture.  The only thing I feel like doing at this moment is whining, and perhaps going home for a nap.

We have a chicken living in our house.  It is small and brown and goes by the name, "Puppy Dog".  It seems to be an unhappy creature, as it too whines constantly.  The older child thought it would be cool to have a pet chicken in her dorm room.  That lasted one night.  Not because she got busted, but because the chicken cries a lot.  Now the two year old has a pet chicken.  She is thrilled.  It lives in a bird cage.

For Halloween, the two year old is going to dress as a chicken.  I need a puppy dog costume for the chicken.  Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Gardening minus the green thumb

I want to be a gardener, grow lots of fresh veggies, and then can and freeze them for winter. I want to be a gatherer. Unfortunately, this rocky subdivision, my lazy husband, and my non-green thumb are preventing this dream from becoming a reality.

My tomatoes and peppers are all shriveled up. I can't water them because they are being guarded by wasps. I'm scared to death of red wasps. My grapes, which need little attention, are doing exceptionally well. If Maddie doesn't eat them all before they ripen, I plan to host a dinner party on the patio to pair cheeses with my two varietals of grapes. Then, I'm going to stomp them in a bucket and make some homemade wine!

My grandmother tried to make wine once. She said that she sampled the wine every day to monitor it's progress. By the time it was ready, there was only a small glass left :) I like that story.

Friday, May 28, 2010


I've been out of pocket for the last week or so.  Where? No where really, just trying to tie up some loose ends at work before my last contractual today (which is today....can I get a woo hoo?)!

Tomorrow begins a busy summer. I am going to teach a two week workshop on digital film making to a group of sixth graders who will be documenting a summer school thematic program on China.  I am also conducting several iPad workshops for Arkansas teachers.  Can't wait for either of these!

I am also contemplating taking 2-3 classes toward my Ph.D. this summer.  Classes start next Tuesday and I can't get my advisor to call me back though.  I consider this a sign that I should take the summer off!  The id, ego, and super-ego are at war daily on this topic (and MANY others).

As I mentioned earlier, I am switching the girls' rooms.  I've been painting and shampooing carpets, shopping for bedding and accessories, and generally having a blast doing this.  I wish I was rich enough to do the ENTIRE house.  Don says no cause we aren't rich.  He is such a party-pooper sometimes!

On a sadder note, one of my students lost her little boy last Saturday.  She has been on my mind all week.  I don't know how people who lose their children go on.  It is devastating.  I am so thankful for my kids.  They drive me nuts but they are blessings and the joy of my life.  I am so blessed with SO much!  I love my life.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pottery Barn Kids

Because the teenager is moving out in a few months, we've decided to swap the girls' bedrooms.  The teenager is not happy about this and feels like she's being kicked out of the nest, but we feel that the baby needs more room.  Besides, I don't expect the teenarger to visit that much once she's acclimated.  That's my argument.

Anyway, this room-swapping business is turning into a major headache and a lot of work.  I found new bedding and curtains for the teenager's room pretty quickly and even found furniture for the baby's room (goodbye crib!).  However, finding bedding for the little one has turned into a nightmare.

Oh, I found bedding that I love, mind you, but I can't afford it.  Have you ever looked online at Pottery Barn Kids?  I swear their bedding must be gold-plated!  It is ridiculous.  I would not pay those prices for bedding in our master.  So, who are these parents who can afford $600 plus for a twin bedding set?  They aren't in education, I assure you.

Here is a picture of the set that I love.  Now you can see why I desire to replicate it for our little angel.  She would look so cute cuddled up in those pastel nautical colors!

I thought I would be able to replicate it, but I've had a terrible time finding anything similar.  I've been to the very end of the Internet and back, spent countless hours this past weekend bidding on odd pieces on eBay, been to every store (including fabric and decorator stores)....all to no avail.

I won't give up though.  I've come too far.  I've already procurred metal sand pails and commissioned an artist (Don) to "copy" the artwork Pottery Barn is using to accessorize this bed room.  Well, my quest continues.  If you happen across a bargain on any of these pieces (or something comparable), PLEASE let me know...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Being a Single Mom (Temporarily)

This has always been Don's "busy" time of year.  It would seem with the school year winding down that it would actually be slow, but nope.  He is preparing for the state technology conference (he's the coordinator), preparing for the summer courses he will teach at the university, and consulting for schools writing ERATE grants for next school year.  At this time of the year, I feel like a single mom.

This morning, the baby didn't get a bath.  I washed her down with a warm washcloth, pulled her tangled (sticky in places) hair back into a "top knot", and gave her a quick spray of her baby perfume (Degree Honeysuckle Spray - makes stinky babies smell fresh).  We skipped breakfast at home (she usually eats again at school anyway) and settled for a sippy of milk. 

Tonight, we will have the house to ourselves.  Don is working.  The teenager is working (yes, she is employed again, thank God).  It's just the two of us.  We may go out to dinner....Subway, Taco Bell, something quick and baby-friendly.  Then home to wash the baby so she will smell fresh tomorrow morning... 

Friday, May 14, 2010

Isn't this supposed to be a happy time?

If graduation (which entails the exodus of our children from our homes to spread their wings, embrace adulthood, continue their educations, seek summer employment, etc.) is supposed to be a joyous occasion, then why did we all cry like babies last night?

The teenager doesn't graduate until next Friday night, but last night we attended the graduation of our best friends' daughter, Sara.  She and Skyler started K-4 together and remained in the same district until Skyler reached the 6th grade, at which time we made the decision to move her to the school where I was currently teaching.  The "first" was a small community school district where we knew everyone, attended church together, softball practice, baptisms, etc. It was hard to move her, but we felt she would be better off in a bigger district because of the academic advantages that sometimes affords.

Anyway, back to my sad night.  We were so very proud of the accomplishments of these young men and women and we parents did a pretty good job of stiffling the tears until the class song was played during the Rose Ceremony.  By the time the song ended, I was sobbing.  Don was a little misty-eyed, too.  Keep in mind, this wasn't even our kid's graduation.

I guess what makes this occasion so bittersweet is the memory of the first day that these kiddos started school.  Some of them were happy to be there; some (Skyler for one) cried into my photograph for the first week and begged never to return.  The stories of their experiences at school, the drama, the romance, the arguments, and fist fights.  The bus rides, the ball practices, the dates, and the accidents.  There are a million memories attached to this graduating class, many of whom had been together for thirteen years. 

Bittersweet, too, because this time is ending and a new chapter is beginning.  Will it be a happy chapter?  Only time will tell.  But for now, we are proud.  Not just of them, but of us, too.  Didn't we help with homework, projects, and test preparation? 

It WAS a happy night.  I guess I just got a little sentimental.  Imagine what shape I'll be in next Friday, when my own graduate throws her cap?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sometimes I Feel Like an ATM

Sometimes I feel like an ATM.  Almost daily, the teenager shouts down from her bedroom (pedestal/royal tower...whatever you want to call it) for me to please leave money on the kitchen counter for her.  She needs cash to fill up her fuel tank, cash for something at school, cash for this, cash for that.  Well, it all adds up!  She recently went through $53.00 in gas in ONE weekend!

I know that I am "supposed" to provide for her (although she is legally 18 now), but I can't help but wish that she was thankful or considerate in how she spends the money.  It is difficult to hand someone money who immediately grumbles about the small amount.  This morning she asked for $5.00.  I gave her a $20.00 and told her to bring back the change.  Suddenly, she needed $20.00 and the argument began! Ugh!!

Don called at noon with a run-down of expenditures on her for today alone: $350.00 to repair the bumper of a vehicle she backed into last weekend; $185.00 to replace her broken windshield (it was fine in December); $55.00 for an oil change; $60 for gas.  I will be interested to hear if she bothered to say thank you.

I found out yesterday that she's misplaced a textbook and the school said that if she wants to "walk" at graduation, she must pay the $104.00 to replace it!

Well, this ATM is about to run out of money! I will be so glad when she learns that it really doesn't grow on trees.  She has ignorantly made remarks in the past about our "wealth".  Her perception of our debt-to-income ratio is extremely skewed!  Please God, let the concept of money and its value begin to make sense to her soon!!!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Potty training assistance needed!

I am out of ideas with this one.  The teenager was easy go wean and easy to potty train.  Everything was on schedule, without a bump.  Not this new baby.  She is capable of using the potty, but has decided against it.

The current view on when to begin training a girl is 18 months.  When she reached that marker, we purchased two different chairs, one for upstairs and one for down, and got busy.  It looked like it was going to be a breeze.  We also thought it might help that she is the youngest in her class at school and everyone else was trained or training.  She played and practiced for a month, pulling her pull-up up and down, sitting, wiping, and washing her hands.

Then something happened.  She lost interest.  We still work with her, offer bribes (incentives is the politically correct term), and cheer loudly at her rare successes.  But at the end of the day, she prefers to pee and poop her pants.  We tried letting her wear them dirty for a little while, hoping the discomfort might encourage her to stop going in her pants, but this kid really doesn't care.  She doesn't even want her diaper changed.  A dirty bottom is just fine.

I know it will happen in time, her own time.  However, any ideas or suggestions from you guys would be greatly appreciated.  I'm out of ideas.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Heimlich Humor

I have always had kind of a sick sense of humor and can get tickled over the most serious situations and circumstances, but yesterday I laughed until my eye make-up was down to my chin because I had to perform the Heimlich maneuver on a complete stranger.

I was attending a luncheon (to which I was not formally invited, but attended anyway because I was hungry) and was sitting at a table with colleagues, listening to a speaker, and chowing down on my box lunch sandwich, when all of a sudden I noticed the man at the table next to me choking.  He was trying so hard to be polite, but once we made eye contact, he began to panic.

I stood up in the middle of the room and said something like, "He's choking! Someone needs to do the Heimlich!"  Everyone in the room stood up, but no one moved forward to assist.  By this time, the man was also standing and clawing at his throat.  I (wearing a leopard print dress and stilettos) ran to his rescue.  The man was "girthy" through the middle and after a couple of unsuccessful hugs, I tried to elicit the gentlemen in the room to assist me.  They all stared back at me, wide-eyed, but didn't budge.  After a couple more attempts, the ham sandwich dislodged and all returned to normalcy.  The speaker picked up where she left off and everyone sat down and resumed their eating.

So why was this so amusing to me?  Well, it wasn't until that afternoon when I recounted the story to my mother on the phone.  It was during this retelling that the situation began to feel like a Seinfeld episode.  I pictured myself in that outfit and shoes, arms stretched to the max, trying desperately to help the poor man and I got hysterical.  It was a good half-hour before I recovered.  Anyway, he lived.  So I guess it's okay to laugh then, right?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mother's Day...For Me???

Well, Mother's Day is this Sunday (for those of you who might have forgotten).  It's our special day, the one day each year when we get to be the center of attention, doted upon, spoiled, etc.  The day when our husbands and children express their thankfulness, love, and adoration for all that we do each day to make their lives wonderful.

Hmmm.  That really never happens (for most of us anyway).  My Mother's Day usually entails a hug and "I love you" from the teenager (once she wakes up around noon and is reminded), and a homemade something (this year a glittery heart made by her teacher) from the baby.  During the afternoon, I slave over a hot stove and prepare a feast for my own mother, grandmother, and mother-in-law.  Don is usually kind enough to clean up the mess afterwards.

But not this year.  I have decided to ask for more.  For Mother's Day, I want:
  • The teenager to stop smoking (she promised last night) and for her to behave herself on prom night this Saturday.
  • The baby to get well for awhile.  She's been ill for twelve days straight!
  • Someone to cook lunch or dinner for ME on Sunday (or better yet, take me out).
I've been thinking all week about what I need to do for the mommas in my life on Sunday, and then it occurred to me: I'm a momma, too.  This year, everyone's getting a gift certificate to the nail salon and a card.  Sorry.  This momma's tired.  Everyone is still loved and appreciated....just as much as in previous years.  I've just decided to celebrate me this year.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Still alive...

I just wanted to touch base with my followers (all seven, or so of you!), to let you know that I am still alive and kicking.  I have been swamped at work and haven't had time to jot down a coherent thought in the past week.  I just gave my last final, so things should slow down and return to normal.

Hopefully, my humor will return and I can provide some comic relief to those of you who need it!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Rule #10: Milky Way

The Good Mother Guide warns mothers in Rule #10 that "Drink your milk!" should not be just a mother's "pleading request", but the anthem across America in the quest for strong bones and healthy teeth."  I couldn't agree more.  I do, however, take issue with parents who add flavorings to their children's milk.

I understand that many children, as they age especially, do not care for milk. What brings about this dislike?  When these kids were babies, they happily suckled milk from their mothers or infant formula, but somewhere along the way (perhaps during the transition of weaning), they began to dislike the taste of milk.  Or did they?  When I see a toddler with a sippy cup full of chocolate or strawberry milk, I ask their parents why.  The response is always the same, "He/she doesn't like milk."  I don't believe it.  I think someone in the family believed that the child might enjoy some flavoring in his/her cup, and NOW the child doesn't like milk otherwise.

I never sweetened the teenager's milk and she drinks milk daily.  We go through at least two gallons of milk per week.  We don't sweeten the baby's milk either (although some family members try from time to time and she sees her cousins getting pink and brown milk instead of white).

Does it matter?  Well the research is conflicting and the topic somewhat controversial, but there are some major questions that parents should be asking themselves when grappling with this decision:  Does the added sugar lead to tooth decay?  Does the oxalic acid in chocolate block calcium absorption?  Does this early accessibility to sweets contribute to childhood obesity?  Does the consumption of sweetened milk suppress a child's appetite for food?  There isn't enough definitive research now, so possibly.

The long and short of the issue is this: I want my children to enjoy eating healthy foods for themselves without any added flavorings or additives.  Milk is good plain.  Broccoli is good without cheddar sauce or butter.  Cornflakes are tasty without adding a couple of tablespoons of sugar.

As parents, we are responsible for instilling healthy eating habits in our children.  The more they are exposed to junk food and allowed to consume it, the more they will desire it over healthier options.  Someone has to be the grown up and say no.  It's our job.

I have one last remark to make on this topic of child nutrition. I think it's OK for a child to have a couple of cookies or a cupcake after dinner as dessert or a reward for eating his/her real food, but PLEASE stop offering these items to my kids before dinner! 

Monday, April 26, 2010

Bad eggs

It's unfair to blame the parents for a bad egg's behavior.  I've witnessed this in many families and among friends. A nice, respectable, responsible couple will raise a child or multiple children and something will go wrong with one of them. You know the kid. There's one in every family. He still lives at home at age 30.  She's in her sixth year of college, but still hasn't declared a major.  He's been arrested three times this year and been unemployed since this time last year.  She has three kids by different fathers and a drug problem.

Why and how does this happen?  Blame it on birth order, blame it on over-indulgence, blame it on genetics, but don't blame it on the parents.  I spent most of yesterday in the hospital ER because two "bad eggs" decided to get drunk, hop in a two-person ATV, and then flip it.  Both survived, but this was just one more story in an epic saga of car accidents, police arrests, etc.  Their parents waited outside their rooms, wringing their hands with worry and awaiting their prognoses.

I heard one of the patients (age 34) remark to his mother that his behavior was her fault because she doesn't love him enough.  He drinks because of this reason.  Never mind that he still lives at home, has little to do with his own four children by three different mothers, and is abusive toward the woman who rushed to the accident scene half-dressed and without pausing to brush her hair.  This is the same woman who never missed a parent meeting or baseball practice when she was raising him all by herself, and the person who still pays his bills and never closes her eyes at night without praying for his safety.

Even so, he blames her for all of his problems.  And he has a lot of them.  This was his second major accident in a week, just following his most recent arrest.  I guess what I find most upsetting is that these parents DO blame themselves for their children's mistakes.  No one else needs to point a finger in their direction; they already feel responsible and like general failures as parents.

It disgusts me. I pray that my girls don't turn out like these people, but I know that it is a possibility beyond my control.  It happens to good people, good parents all the time.  I just hope that if it does, I am able to withstand the manipulation and guilt that these rotten eggs seem to enjoy wielding toward the only people who still give a damn about them.          

My latest mental block...

I've had a mental block.

I am a runner and have always ran in the dark when the rest of the family is sleeping (the only possible time).  This time has always been special to me.  It provides uninterrupted solitude, a time to think, reflect, plan, and pray.  I have come to cherish this reprieve from the daily grind, like no other activity.

My minimum outdoor temp for running is 50 degrees.  This means that I don't run outside during the winter months.  I use my indoor gym equipment instead.  When spring temperatures arrived this year, I dug out my cool weather gear, strapped on my Garmin 4Runner and heart monitor, but for some reason could not walk out the door into the pitch black night. I made several attempts over the course of the past month, but was unexplainably gripped by an unknown fear.

I know my route, my neighborhood, neighbors, and their dogs.  I know the other nocturnal runners and the night-shift workers.  Why, then, after all these years, have I been so fearful of late? 

Someone suggested that it could have something to do with my maternal instincts and a subconscious concern for my own safety for the well-being of my girls.  I don't know about that.  I've never been scared before.  I think I watched too many episodes of "The First 48 Hours" during my winter break.  I've been doing this long enough to know that my biggest concerns should be snakes and roadkill, both difficult to see in the dark, but the imagination can convince even the most reasonable gal that there's a rapist lurking in every shadow.

Anyway, I refuse to let nerves keep me from doing something that I love dearly.  I said a long prayer on Friday and hit pavement.  It was wonderful, peaceful, and so quiet.  I don't know what was going on, but I'm glad that it's over.  Gotta run now!   

Friday, April 23, 2010

Rule #8: Have a Lark!

"All work and no play can leave any mother elbow-deep in the doldrums."  Maybe this is why I've been such a grouch lately.  I haven't been attending the "bi-annual rotary club meetings" or "joining my lady friends for a bridge game while the kids are napping".  Wow!  It all makes sense now.

Well, last night I attended a Delta Kappa Gamma meeting (my last meeting as president!) and afterwards I went out for drinks with the incoming president (to discuss DKG business, of course).  It helped.  I feel a lot better today.

Instead of dreading the houseful of company that will arrive late tonight and stay until Sunday, I am actually looking forward to seeing them.  Don't get me wrong, I love them.  I've just been tired and grumpy.  A couple of hours with a friend and two glasses of red wine really knocked the edge off.

I blogged yesterday about the guilt that I feel for not spending enough time with my daughters.  The fact is, I can't help it.  I have to work if we want to continue to live where we do, drive what we drive, eat what we eat, and play when and where we like to play.  I started to say no to that drink with my friend last night, but after a couple of minutes, decided that I needed it and deserved it.

Rule #8's wisdom still rings true today.  Moms need to make time to "have a lark" occasionally. After last night, I feel like I can survive the weekend.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Guilty, as charged...

I know I am beginning to sound like a broken record, but I feel overworked and pretty stressed out right now.  I have a Type-A personality, so I am always fretting about something, but this time of year (end of the semester) always gets me worked up.  I am finding it difficult to be funny, and I like being funny.

I've had all kinds of stuff going on at work this week.  We've been so busy that today was the first day that I actually got to take a lunch break (it, too, was stressful).  I had a meeting last night and didn't get home until after 8:00 p.m. and I have another one tonight.  Geez.  My poor kids.  The teenager is still in mourning (broken heart) and needs me to comfort her.  The little one just needs me to play with her.  I feel guilty.

To make matters worse, the baby has a field trip to the zoo tomorrow, but no one can accompany her so she has to stay behind at school.  I have a meeting and a class tomorrow (can't miss that - finals are around the corner!), so I'm stuck here at the office.  Maddie's stuck in the baby nursery at school.  Poor Maddie.

It's hard being a working mommy.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Date Night

I know you won't believe this, but I've been bitchy this week.  My plate is entirely too full and not many people within my arm's reach seem to have enough to do.  Take last night, for instance.  I arrived home at approximately 6:00 p.m., my usual time.  The house was empty, but everyone had been off work or home from school since around 2 p.m.  I changed into my pajamas (yes, I said it) and waited around for the rest of the family to get home.  They arrived within half an hour, congregating one by one, or two by two, around the kitchen island staring at me like hungry dogs.  Why were they staring at me?  Because they all had the same question, "What's for dinner, Mom?"

I quickly made taco salad (you can imagine what my pajamas smelled like when I finished).  By the time I sat down to eat, they had finished dinner and disappeared again into thin air.  The teenager did reappear to ask if I had located her shot record or had time to pick up her senior pictures today.

While in a meeting at noon today, I received a text message from Don that said something like, "My meeting ended sooner than expected.  Headed to the lake to drink beer.  See you this evening.  Love you."  For some reason, I became really irritated.  At Don, no, but at my situation vs. his situation.  I would love to eat lunch with friends everyday, get home before dark, and drink beer (lots and lots of it) on the lake.  I'm not saying that I work harder than he does, just that his schedule is more flexible and it does allow for more "free" time.  I'm bitter.

Anyway, he redeemed himself.  He called a few minutes ago to let me know that his mother had agreed to babysit Maddie for a couple of hours tonight and that he is taking me out to dinner. Its been a really long time since we've been to dinner alone.  I wish I could write an analogy of this "date" and the "Date Night" movie that we are eagerly awaiting to see (because we are every bit as funny as Steve Carrell and Tina Fey).  However, our date night won't last long enough to squeeze in a movie at the theater.  We have to wait until the video is released.

Monday, April 19, 2010


During the nine minutes between the first and second alarms on my clock and before the serotonin begins to clear from my brain, I am already anticipating the many tasks that await me at the office and I begin to feel overwhelmed.

This morning, my mental to-do list seemed a mile long and I debated driving past my building and continuing on, somewhere fun, where work doesn't exist.  Perhaps Galveston or New Oreans.  But, alas, I did not.  I pulled into the closest parking spot, put on a cheerful face, marched in and began working on those most pressing items on my list.  I love to work and I like to be busy, but sometimes there's just too much to do in a certain period of time.

I did not stop for lunch until just now.  My lunch was liquid, gulped down in three or four swallows.  I look around and others are still working.  Their doors have remained open all day as well.  When will the "slow" part of the academic year arrive? 

I just reviewed my to-do list and was able to cross out several items, but just as many tasks remain for tomorrow. On the bright side, I have a job to go to tomorrow where my work is valued, where I am valued!  I know many who would gladly trade places with me.  Instead of feeling overwhelmed, I should be counting by blessings!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Don't take a baby shopping for a prom dress...

We just returned from prom dress shopping.  I have dreaded this excursion for three months because I knew that it would be riddled with drama.  I was wrong.  We started shopping at 10 a.m. and were back home by noon with a dress, shoes, and accessories. She found several that she liked at Dillard's and had to decide on one, but overall it was pretty easy.

This mother-daughter day out wasn't fun though.  Don had some things he needed to work on, so we took the baby along.  The "terrible twos" kicked in as we backed out of the drive way. Her newest thing is to lament over some pain or nonexistent booboo.  These ailments shift around on and in her little body.  Today, her nose, eyes, mouth, feet, and tummy hurt.  When she wasn't complaining about these, she just cried or screamed for any random reason. The clerk assisting us gave her a graham cracker which she rubbed into several of the gowns before we caught her.  She escaped several times, once making it all the way to housewares.  She feel once trying to climb back into her stroller, leaving s huge goose egg on her forehead.  Then, she pooped her pants.  I was as crazy as a betsy beetle (bessie bug) before we checked out.  The moral of the story is simple: Don't take a baby shopping for a prom dress.          

Friday, April 16, 2010

Back to the womb...

I have never considered sending my children back from whence they came (reference to woman who sent her adopted Russian child back to Moscow lat week because she couldn't deal with him).  However, I have wished that I could send them back to the womb for a few hours.  Mostly though, when times are trying (like right now), I think about running away.  I wouldn't go far, probably just for a drive.  Sometimes you just have to escape.

What is prompting this entry, you are probably wondering? The little one is having a bad day. Therefore, we are too.  We went to dinner across town (Taco Mama's) and she screamed from the time we left the house until her big bowl of guacamole arrived at the table.  She was quiet until she sucked the last bit of green slime from her baby thumb, and then let out a howl a that hasn't ceased in over an hour.

Don said that when he was a little boy, he once saw a woman swat her son off the front porch with a broom.  He thought then that she must be meanest woman in the world.  He stated that if he had a broom right this instant, he'd shoo Maddie off the porch too.  Funny how perspectives change.

Rule #9: Oh, Behave!

I am skipping Rule #8 for the time because the topic addressed in Rule #9 is receiving media attention (once again).  Check out this blog on the New York Times website for a heated debate on the topic (something I am not trying to insight here). 

At my house, we spank.  We aren't embarrassed about it.  We don't try to hide it from our family, friends, or colleagues because we believe that it works and sometimes its the only thing that seems to!  Don't get me wrong - we utilize other disciplinary methods as well, but sometimes find it necessary to bust out the ol' paddle (BTW, Don is a top-notch paddle-maker and has made several for our close friends!). 

"This is going to hurt me worse than it hurts you."  I have never believed this statement.  It doesn't hurt my feelings one bit to administer a swat or two to the booty if the occasion warrants such an act.  Afterwards, I sometimes feel bad about having to do it, but never regretful. 

My husband and I were both spanked as kids and we both needed and deserved them.  Neither of us received many, but when we did, our parents made them count.  Did the spankings make us violent? No.  Did the spankings make us resent our parents? No.

We do it a little differently than our folks.  We use a paddle or hand to the bottom (This works best if you catch the kid off guard and just snatch them up if the behavior persists after a warning or two).  My mom liked to use whatever household item was closest to her (hairbrush, flyswat, belt, extension cord, wooden spoon....I guess it depended on the room of the house that the misbehavior took place in).  Sound like abuse?  Na.  Mom was/is small in stature and couldn't spank very hard.  I usually made it to the next room before bursting into laughter.  Child abuse is having to cut your own switch, my grandmother's preferred tool of discipline.  Anyway, we remain calm and spanking is used only as a last resort, but again, we don't feel bad about it. 

So, there's my stance on corporal punishment.  You can agree or disagree and that's your prerogative.  I will still respect you tomorrow.

In closing, the advice for Rule #9 is as follows: "Don't bear the burden of doling out punishment alone when you can just as easily pass the buck to the man who had the luxury of avoiding the little demons all day."  In other words, if spanking makes your feel like a bad mother, make your husband do it. 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Rule #7: Accidents Will Happen

Rule #7 is all about a mother's responsibility to be prepared when her child has an accident or becomes ill.  I was surprised that the article didn't chastise mothers for not foreseeing and anticipating accidents/sicknesses before they occur.  My favorite little nugget of advice from this chapter was, "When your medicine chest doesn't provide relief, a little nip of whiskey should do the trick...for you, if not for them!"

I think most parents live in fear of DHS these days.  I don't recall going to the doctor very much as a child.  When I had a sore throat or chest cold, my mother followed the advice above and admistered a little whiskey, sometimes mixed with honey and lemon.  That seemed to do the trick.  She also used several other backcountry remedies (green walnut shell for ringworms, tobacco for a wasp sting, etc.) Today, many parents are terrified that someone will report them to DHS if they don't drag their kids back and forth to the pediatrician at least twice per month over the silliest of ailments.  We seldom give an illness time to run its course anymore (which is why many common strains are immune to antibiotics).

Aside from this fear of being reported as a bad parent, I think a lot of the parenting principles in place today are founded on guilt and peer pressure.  At daycare drop-off this morning, Lucy's mom mentioned that Lucy would be getting tubes in her ears; Jimmy's dad reported that his little man was being fitted for leg braces because his feet turn in a little; at 18 months, baby Anna is being treated for allergies.  The stories never end!  As humans, can we really be contracting more illnesses than we did 30 years ago?

Anyway, accidents WILL happen.  Children WILL get sick.  In most cases, they will survive.  The teenager suffered a broken arm the first time she put on roller shoes a few years back.  A few months later she skated down a steep hill on her razor scooter (no safety gear), destroying her face, elbow, and right knee.  We picked her up, dusted her off, waited a little while so as to better assess the seriousness of the situation, and then as parents decided about the need for a doctor/ER visit.  She is fine and dandy today.

The baby seems to catch every virus and cold that runs through her class at daycare.  We give it a few days and she doesn't begin to improve, we make an appointment with the pediatrician.  Nine times out of ten, she is better in a couple of days.  Don't misinterpret this and report me to DHS.  If she has a high fever or serious symptoms, we call immediately.  I'm just referring to coughs, colds, and tummy aches.

In the end, Mommy (or Daddy) must make the call.  It is sometimes better to err on the side of caution.

Now back to that nip of whiskey...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Kids don't make for good bedfellows

Last night was not a good night.  It is difficult enough to sleep with Don, who suffers from insomnia most of the night and then snores loudly when he finally does fall asleep (somewhere around 2:00).  Throw a kicking baby in the mix a couple of nights a week and those of you who know me will understand the bags and dark circles under my eyes.

Last night was even worse.  The teenager slept with us too.  Her boyfriend of 2 1/2 years broke up with her and she was too upset to sleep in her own room.  Somewhere around 2:30, the baby awoke with a tummy ache and moved to our bed, as well.  Three grown people and a sideways-sleeping toddler don't make for good bedfellows.

On a brighter note, today is Maddie Lu's 2nd birthday!  I took the day off and with the assistance of my mother-in-law, will be coordinating her Elmo-themed party at school this afternoon.  I bought an Elmo pinata.  Don is concerned about how Maddie will react to such violence against her favorite muppet, as well as how the other toddlers might act toward one another after beating Elmo to death.   He teaches ed psych and I think he gives too much credit to Bandura and his Bobo Doll Experiment.

I also have my annual exam scheduled for today.  My best friend is also my doctor so this is always an enjoyable day for us both.  Actually, it's more comfortable than one might think.  She knows everything about me already so there's no need for awkwardness and I don't even feel the need to trim up before the visit :)

I hope to get a few household chores accomplished in the mix today and then Don and I are planning to clean up the boat and take it for an evening cruise.  That is, if I am still functional given the lack of sleep I've had lately.    

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What do you do with good ole boys like him?

Please click this link and listen to the song as you read today's blog.

While scanning through radio stations driving home from work late yesterday afternoon, my finger paused on an old familiar tune that I hadn't heard in a while.  It was Don Williams' song, "Good Ole Boys Like Me".  By the song's end, I found myself misty-eyed as a million Sunday morning memories of my grandfather flitted through my mind like a music video.

Grandpa didn't attend church.  He's never been one for crowds.  But the rest of us attended every Sunday morning (and every other time the church doors were open).  He stayed home and listened (religiously) to Don Williams Greatest Hits on vinyl while he read the Sunday paper and thumbed through old Oaklawn Racing forms.  By the time I reached puberty, I knew every Don Williams song by heart, but by no means considered myself a fan (I was in to big hair bands then.)

The memories that the song evoked aren't connected to popular music of the decade though.  The song reminded me of the man who stepped in without missing a beat when my father was murdered in 1978.  Grandpa did this without batting an eye, for he was never one for drama, worry, or concern.  Even-keeled and even-tempered, he opened his home to my mother, brother, and I and our extended family felt as natural and normal as any other that I knew through the years. 

Grandpa is still with us.  I didn't realize it at the time, but he and my grandmother were both still pretty young the year of my father's death.  He was only 50.  My grandmother passed away a few years back and an arsonist burned down the family homestead a short time thereafter.  He now lives in the little house that adjoins my mother's property where he sits daily, reading the newspaper and thumbing through old racing forms.  He also hums while he listens to the radio (that local station that plays old country music). 

I know I should take time out of this crazy life to visit him more and write down the hundreds of stories that he's shared with me through the years.  Someday, I will forget how much money my great-grandfather (his dad, a sharecropper) had at the beginning and end of each year of the Great Depression and the deprivations that he and his siblings endured.  Someday, I will forget the time that he got out of bed in the middle of the night to help me rescue some tadpoles that I had left in a homemade mudhole in the dirt drive.  Someday, I will forget that he let me drive his old pickup truck (just to the end of the dirt road and back) when I was much too young and that he was the first one to arrive at the scene when I crashed my dirt bike into a woodpile.  Someday, I will forget the funny stories that he shared with me of losing his virginity, smoking marijuana, and of the time grandma peed on him through a hole in the porch floor after she forced him to crawl underneath to catch one of the hens and her new chicks.  (Grandpa shares a lot these days :)

However, there is one thing that I will never forget: the man who assumed responsibility, the breadwinner, the counselor, the gentle giant, the good ole boy who raised me.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Rule #6: The "Buck" Stops Here

I had to take some time off from this series because I was beginning to lose interest, but Rule #6 went along with my morning scuffle with the teen so I must spew a little this afternoon.

According to the book, "Children who are never taught to save their pennies for a rainy day run the risk of growing up to be fiduciary failures content to live on the dole, or even worse, in your basement rumpus room for the rest of their adult lives."  At my house this morning, the teenager was running very late (as usual) for her 6:00 a.m. observation of a surgery at the local hospital.  Instead of checking the details for this part of her clinical experience, putting gas in her car, and washing her scrubs last night, she waiting until this morning to recall these necessities.  Somehow, I was partially to blame.

As she was leaving this morning, she yelled from the kitchen that she needed gas money.  I hate shelling out gas money because she doesn't value it.  It is expected from her.  The rule when we handed down the 4-Runner was that we would pay the insurance, but she would pay for fuel and maintenance.  Well, she's unemployed again.  I know that she needs gas to go to and from school and her clinicals, but she spends a great deal of time cruising and giving friends without cars lifts to their various destinations.  She needs gas money at least three times a week, and I am sick of it.  I gave her all that I had, $6.00.  She looked me dead in the eye and said, "Really?" Then she turned on her heal and stomped angrily to the car.

Our good friends, who have a daughter of the same age, recently experienced a similar situation.  Their daughter decided to decline a summer internship in DC (all expenses paid plus a $3,000 stipend) because she preferred instead to go to two or three hokie little camps around the U.S. (all of which cost quite a bit of money).  Her father flatly refused to fund the camps and advised her to get a job and pay for them herself.

Tough love.  Its difficult for everyone.  I know one thing for sure:  I don't want to be an enabler or a helicopter mom anymore.  I've spent 18 years providing Skyler with everything that she needed and many things that she desired because as parents, its expected.  How much you spend on your kids is part of "keeping up with the Jones".

Skyler's days of "living on the dole" will come to an end in two months.  She will graduate and start college.  Of course, we will pay for her necessities.  However, she WILL work to fund her own designer clothing, gas, etc.  And I really don't give a flip what Meghan's and Jennifer's parents will be paying for in the fall. The buck stops here.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Mommy "Me" Time Can Be Lonely

I admit it. I was looking forward to traveling out of town by myself for a few days. I am attending a conference in Louisville, KY and the prospect of sleeping alone in a king size bed was appealing to me.  We've been sleeping like the letter H at my house for the past two years, and call me selfish, but I thought it might be nice to go to dinner alone (without the interruption of having to change a diaper mid-meal), maybe sample a couple of local bourbons, visit a museum (time permitting), and finish the book I started on the cruise.

Well, due to a myriad of flight delays, eating wasn't even an option last night. I was lucky to make it to the Hyatt before registration opened this morning.  After several phone calls to ensure that all was well on the home front, I snuggled into my Garfield PJs (marital joke) and started reading. Insomnia began to creep in.  Why, why, why, couldn't my sleep-deprived body and brain shut down for a few hours and take advantage of this opportunity?  They are so few and far between these days....

After the last session ended today, I headed to the room to plan my only evening on the town.  IPad in hand, I awoke two hours later.  I know me; this nap will result in another sleepless night!  I was tempted to remain in bed until tomorrow, but I freshened up and headed out.  By that time, the Louisville Slugger Museum was closed (I peered through the windows at the factory workers still grinding away), and although I had planned to have dinner at Maker's Mark, I stumbled upon an Old Spaghetti Warehouse where I enjoyed crab raviolis with a professor from Fargo, ND.  Good times!

Now with my iPad as my only companion, I'm sitting at an Irish pub enjoying a tall Guinness and contemplating walking across the street to Howl at the Moon.  I wonder who will help me home if I decide to embark upon such an adventure?   I don't have to be responsible for anyone tonight, but who will be responsible for me? All of this "me" time is making me lonesome for my family and friends!

Don't worry followers.  I'll probably return to my room after I finish this beer and slip back into my Garfields...    

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I hate Delta Airlines

I hate Delta Airlines.  I booked a business trip to Louisville, Kentucky over three months ago using Expedia.  The cheapest flight was with Delta.  You know that I am cheap, but after the cruise and this trip, I am convinced that you get what you pay for. Since booking, Delta has changed my flight six times, which completely screwed up my schedule! But I didn't complain too much (except to Expedia).

Well, I arrived almost two hours early to check in and was told that Delta had downsized the plane.  Twenty passengers were booted, self included!  So here I sit with a $200 voucher and a much later flight ticket, which pushed my destination arrival well past my bedtime.

This hatred of Delta is not new. I've experienced two very scary flights with them and one overnight flight cancellation, all due to technical problems. One landing was so rough, the Coke cart came loose, flew up the aisle, and injured two people! Delta bought lots of bus tickets that day.

Anyway, I have several hours to kill at the airport. Think I'll just sit here and drink.....

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Kids are like tech gadgets...

When the iPhone first came out, several of my good friends ran out and purchased them.  We decided to wait for Apple to work out all the bugs and for our current phone contract to expire before making the transition.  This was extremely difficult because ALL that our friends wanted to talk about was the iPhone.  No matter what we were doing (dining, driving, watching a movie, using the restroom), the iPhone with all its superpowers, somehow wormed its way into the conversation.  At first I was jealous and felt out of the loop, but I soon began to hate the iPhone and everyone who owned it.  My friends stuggled to learn to use the newest apps and plagued us with discussions of their trials.  While attending a conference in Houston last year, we were forced to rely on a friend's iPhone for restaurant reviews and driving directions to Galveston.  The iPhone misadvised us about a restaurant that we had looked forward to visiting and confused the hell out of us as we tried to exit the city limits for an excursion to the beach.  My hatred grew exponentially.

Before proceeding, I must admit that I couldn't help but compare these individuals who talked incessantly about their iPhones to parents who can't shut up about their children.  Think about it.  The expression, "Check out my new iPhone app!  Isn't it cool?" is a lot like, "Look at the latest pictures of my kids.  Aren't they cute?"  There are plenty of other analogous phrases, but you get my point.  When you don't have little kids or an iPhone, you really don't care to hear about "what their poop looks like" or that "you can use it horizonatally AND vertically."  Its all the same when you can't relate.

Well, needless to say, I have turned into someone whom I despise.  I have a toddler at home now and I catch myself boring others to suicide by forcing them to look at her latest picture or listen to a funny story about her.  I still don't have an iPhone (that contract still hasn't expired), but I pre-ordered an iPad and it was delivered to the house on Saturday.  I have taken it to work and parties, forcing others to watch it do its tricks.  But today, I became someone even more horrific than the individuals I described above: I cornered several coworkers and forced them to look at all the cool things that my kid can do, all of which had been uploaded to my new iPad.  The torture was twofold.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Rule #5: Safety First!

Well, Rule #5, unlike the first four that I blogged about, is still somewhat relevant in 2010.  The author warned mothers about objects, behaviors, and actions that were potentially dangerous for children.  These included sticking fingers into electrical outlets, running with scissors, and playing in abandoned mine shafts.  For the most part, these still apply today.  I can think of some others that should have been considered in the 50s, like the use of car seats and minimizing exposure to cigarette smoke.

I don't think that I ever stuck my finger in an electrical outlet, but my little brother once made a bomb that blew his hair and eyebrows off his face.  My mother provided him with the supplies because he told her that he needed them for a science fair project.

We didn't run with scissors, but I was frequently sent to the kitchen to retrieve a butcher knife for my grandmother who waiting in the garden.  She always seemed to forget that one was needed to cut the okra from the stalks.  My brother always carried a pocketknife and was given his very own chainsaw when he was six years old.  It was real and a gift from the local saw shop owner whom my grandfather patronized throughout his career in logging.  My brother accompanied him every Saturday. 

We didn't have access to abandoned mine shafts, but played all around the concrete surround of the old well in the backyard.  We survived all of these things.

I guess my girls have never really been exposed to dangers such as these.  We warn the oldest one about sexual predators, texting while driving, and the dangers of alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, and unprotected sex.  We make sure that the baby rides in a carseat at all times and every outlet in our home has a protective cover.  The cabinets all have child safety locks and we use monitors to keep check on her at night.  My girls are city girls; the threats and dangers that they face will differ from those that concerned my mother and grandmother charged with rearing two children on a small farm in rural Arkansas.

The objects, behaviors, and actions associated with danger have changed in the past 60 years, but the need for parents to stay abreast of potential dangers has increased.  Sadly, we have alot more to worry about today.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Rule #4: What Lies Beneath

My mother always made sure that we were wearing clean underwear before we left the house and that we washed our feet before we went to bed.  She said that we could get into a car accident or need to go to the hospital at any given time, and we needed to be clean from butt to toe when (not if) it happened.  I know that this was a common concern among mothers at that time (apparently, someone's child had been in an accident and they all learned by way of the grapevine that the child was wearing dirty drawers) and apparently it dates all the way back to the 50s because this entire chapter is dedicated to the topic.

According to Rule #4, "Perfectly ironed knickers, starched shirts and spit-polished shoes won't hide a mother's shame if and when her young'un ventures out into the world sporting day-old unmentionables."   The solution, according to the chapter, is to teach Little Timmy to change his briefs on a regular basis.  In my opinion, the solution is to teach Timmy to clean his bottom a little better and to better monitor the difference between a toot and poop pain (women are SO much better at this!). I understand that "sharts" happen from time to time.  As mothers and wives, we are eyewitnesses to this on a weekly basis when we wash and fold underwear.

On my commute to work this morning, my favorite radio show was featuring a comedian who will be performing at the Looney Bin tonight.  He, along with the two male radio hosts, were discussing a list of 30 things that a person should be able to do or possess to live on their own by age 30.  One of the top 10 things was to own enough underwear to make it through one week.  The number varies by individual, apparently.  Some people need more, others less.  The comedian said that he had at least 19 pairs buried in his backyard because they were so dirty that he was ashamed to let his wife see them.  It made me wish that some of my family members were a little more embarrassed by their own skidmarks.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Rule #3: Bottoms Up!

I could also have entitled this, "My hands are just too big."  This post is a critique of the book's third chapter which provides a comical view of diaper duty and potty training.  According to the author, you can't "train an elephant to rollerskate" and its just as silly to think you can train a man to change a baby's diaper.

I beg to differ.  My husband changes diapers and he is very good at it.  He hates it, complains bitterly, gags, and sometimes gets poop on his fingers, but he changes them.  However, I think he still may be an exception to the rule.  I know several men who have never changed a diaper and never intend to. Their "babys' mommas" grumblingly accept this, but allow the behavior to persist.  This would not work in our family or in my marriage.  We go halfers all the way.  What few couples realize is that having a baby is a lot like adopting a pet.  A couple must come to a firm and clear agreement well in advance of any living addition to a household on who will be responsible for changing the diapers (or cleaning out the litter box, walking the dog, etc.).  In my opinion, if you helped make the baby then half the poop belongs to you, so man up and dive in. 

Speaking of diaper duty, I have a funny story from a couple of evenings ago.  Aunt Sha Sha was visiting and the baby pooped her diaper. While I changed the baby, Aunt Sha Sha held her doll during which time she thought it would be funny to smear the doll's bottom with peanut butter and then insert a Tootsie Roll into her little diaper.  When I finished changing Maddie, Sha Sha told her that she believed that her baby needed a changing too.  Maddie was alarmed at the diaper's contents and recoiled in disgust.  She fretted and carried on about the baby doll's poop for almost ten minutes before losing interest, much to our amusement.  When I laid the baby down that night, she looked at me and said, "Sha Sha pooped in baby's diaper."  This explained her surprise.

P.S. Don also cleans the litter box.  I am allergic to cat dander.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Rule #2: No More Tears

This chapter discusses crying and tantrums (not yours, but the baby's).  Rule #2 states, "The attentive mother is one who can anticipate a child's needs at every turn."  In other words, if your baby is bawling, it is due to your motherly shortcomings...their words, not mine.

Everyone feels like crying sometimes, especially babies and new mothers.  They have a lot to cry about.  Its difficult to maintain a happy disposition when you are sleep deprived and your bottom hurts (i.e. childbirth for you, diaper rash for him). 

As far as "anticipating" your baby's needs, well, you can attempt to do that by checking the baby's diaper on a regular basis and remembering to feed him or her.  It also helps to keep them on a schedule.  But, crying and tantrums will continue to occur from time to time. 

For example, both of my children cry daily.  The teenager's crying is usually the result of an argument with her boyfriend, because she has gained weight and "hates her body", or because she is grounded and must endure riding the school bus, where the "little people touch her".  There is no way that I can anticipate any of these things because they are all the result of her own behavior or attitude.

The little one's tears are usually more justified.  She cries because she is teething (we are cutting the last two right now!) or has a booboo of some sort.  Lately though, she cries when someone else has something that she desires or someone is touching her.  Both result in huge crocodile tears and tattling.  I am not good at anticipating these latter two situations.

Some things are just beyond the control of mothers.  Kids cry.  It is our job to console them when they do, but it is not always possible to anticipate the tears or tantrums.  I have plenty of personal shortcomings without adding this to my list.  I'm sure you do too, so let's not beat ourselves up over this one.

I can't help but to be reminded of two of my own mother's expressions when I was reduced to tears or a tantrum as as child:

"Dry it up"
"Do you want me to give you something to cry about?"

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Rule #1: A Child is Born

As I mentioned two weeks ago, I picked up the The Good Mother Guide at Books-a-Million while looking for something interesting to read while on the cruise.  Being a "new" mother again, the title and 1950s style cover immediately caught my attention.  The chapters are brief and each features comical (when read today) excerpts from Ladies Homemaker Monthly, a popular magazine during the 50s.  To follow through on an earlier promise to blog through each chapter, I am going to begin today with a response to "Rule #1: A Child is Born".  This chapter offers an insightful discussion on the typical woman's emotions and appearance on the day that she gives birth to her child.  I won't go into great detail (to prevent a copyright suit) and because you should read the book yourself if you're that interested.  My goal is not to provide a Cliffs Notes version.

To begin, I couldn't help but to compare the photograph in the book with my own photo, taken shortly after 15 hours of labor and delivery.  The contrast startled me a little.  The young mother in the picture was dressed in a white lace nightgown (not practical, considering what had just taken place), and was in complete makeup.  Her hair was perfect and featured a white bow.  Her bundle of joy is a yawning cherub.  He/she is also perfect and doesn't feature the disformities that I've seen in most newborns.

In contrast, I am wearing a green hospital gown and my hair looks like I combed it with a firecracker.  I remember writhing in pain to the point where my hair was completely matted to my head.  I didn't bother trying to comb out the tangles for two days. 

I am not wearing makeup.  It never crossed my mind to apply any, and why would I?  My face is swollen to twice its normal size and makeup would have only drawn attention to this.

My baby does not look like a cherub.  She looks like a conehead.  The top of her head stuck out for over an hour before the rest of her body emerged.  The cone remained until the next day.  She is a little jaundiced, but mostly beet-red and very wrinkled.

The magazine stated that, "A woman never feels more beautiful, more blissfully radiant, than on the day she welcomes her bundle of joy."  I felt neither emotion.  Instead, I remember feeling lots of pain, an internal promise to "never do this again", some disdain for the baby's father, and a thorough annoyance directed at all others in the room who didn't have a baby poking its big head out of their lower extremeties. 

After reading this first chapter, I realize how ridiculous and artificial society was at the time.  "Good" women were really expected to apply makeup and slip into a lace nightgown before the father (who was smoking a cigar in the lobby) and other visitors entered the room.  Well, times have changed.  I've had the displeasure of being in the delivery room with several friends and relatives through the years, and they all look like hell at the end (except for my two cousins, Christy and Dana, who never broke a sweat or mussed their faces and hair during the ordeal).

I've heard some call the birthing process both beautiful and miraculous.  What I've seen cannot even be called pretty.  New babies are smelly and kind of ugly.  Mothers are nappy-headed and bloated.  That's just how it is and that is acceptable now, thank God! I guess I broke Rule #1.

Monday, March 29, 2010


I am cheap.  Just ask Don.  He is always accusing me of being a tightwad.  Well, I refused to spring for a suite on this cruise because I really didn't think that we would spend that much time in our inside cabin.  Don begged me to upgrade several times, but I was sure that there would be plenty of space.

Boy, was I wrong.  Our room was approximately 185 square feet and consisted of two twin beds, pushed together to make a queen/king, a pull-down bunk bed, and a baby crib.  Add a teenager with dysentery, a baby in diapers, and a husband who was attempting to "get his money's worth" by eating as often as possible and suffering the consequences, and that severely limits the amount of oxygen in a room of any size.  By day three, I would have paid any price for a room with just a porthole!

The kids were pretty good, for our kids, who are seldom good.  The baby learned to lie and tattle.  She did both incessantly.  Even when no one else was in the room, she claimed that someone was hitting her or taking her eyebrows (yes, eyebrows).  She prowled in the low drawers and pilfered through the luggage zippers.  When asked what she was doing, in poor English, she would reply, "I ain't doing anything."

The teenager was a slob.  She refused to keep her clothes picked up and before long, the floor was littered with both clean and dirty discarded garments.  I just walked on them after awhile.  I refused to play housekeeper on my vacation.  I must acknowledge that she came in at a reasonable time each night and limited her perfume spraying within reason.  For the most part, she also held in any backtalk that threatened to surface during the trip (She knew it would be hard to escape me in such tight quarters).

My niece, who shared a cabin with my parents next door, found it necessary to get ready in our room twice a day so that she could use my hair straightener.  My husband became so sick of the girls that he began walking around the room in his underwear.  This grossed them out and helped to speed along their "primping" time. 

The kids were good, like I said before.  But after spending ten days in their continuous the the the car again, I began to realize why some mother's eat their young.  Being confined with your children for that long is trying, to say the least.

This was our last big vacation with Skyler as "our child at home".  She will be leaving for college in a few months and we will never have to share another cruise cabin with her again.  It makes me kind of sad.  Maddie will grow up as Skyler did, as an only child.  My daugthers' relationship with one another will change.  As adults, they will most likely remember their individual childhoods, separate from one another.  The close confinement with one another during the cruise might have been miserable at times, but hopefully the togetherness that we shared will endure as a pleasant memory for us all.

Friday, March 19, 2010

"The Good Mother Guide"

After spending most of the day running last minute errands and packing for vacation (my suitcase, Skyler's and Maddie's) I decided to run to Books-a-Million and pick up a few more books for the trip (Yes, I plan to immerse myself in smut and spend this much-deserved time off ignoring reality).

Maddie was taking a late afternoon nap in her carseat and Don was starving so he dropped me off and ran to Burger King for a snack.  He said this was to provide me with a little quiet time, but I think he is scared of books, or atleast large numbers of them housed in the same room.  Libraries give him the heebie-jeebies too.  Skyler was hanging out with friends in some undisclosed location.

At a big discount table set up at the store's entrance, a book entitled, "The Good Mother Guide: 19 Tips for Keeping a Happy Home" caught my attention.  I spent the next few minutes skimming the 19 rules and chuckling to myself.  I couldn't help but to apply the rules to my own practices and those of my mother and grandmother.  My final thought before pitching the book into my basket was, "Motherhood has definitely changed in the past 60 years."  No longer are we still expected to change all of the diapers and pretend that childhood doesn't hurt a bit (thank God!) I decided then and there that when I recuperate from this vacation, I'm going to personally examine each rule in turn and then present my own perspective on each.

This book is based on excerpts from a Midwestern magazine called "Ladies Homemaker Monthly."  I do not know if it is still in publication.  I hope not, but if so, I hope they've changed their way of thinking.  Being a good Southern girl and a touch redneck, I don't know that folks from these parts would have ever adhered to any of the 19 rules presented here.  During the vacation, I'll share the rules with my mother and get her input.  That should be an interesting conversation.  Her favorite quote from the Bible, is "Spare the rod, spoil the child."  Let's see what she has to say about the 18 rules that don't deal with discipline.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Spring Break can't get here soon enough...

Everyone in the house is sick or recovering from some illness.  Madilyn and Don have both been fighting chest colds and Skyler and I aren't feeling too hot either.  It could be spring fever. 

Spring Break is just around the corner and I am trying to get everyone well before we leave on a seven night cruise to the Western Caribbean.  As you know, Skyler graduates from high school in May so she got to pick our destination.  My parents and niece, Lexi, will be joining us.

I am looking forward to having some time off work, but dreading the trip at the same time.  We are driving to New Orleans a day before we depart and will be trapped in the vehicle with the two big girls and Maddie for 10 hours.  I am sure to be as crazy as a loon by the time we get there.

We bought Maddie a new music CD for the trip and a scribble dibble thing.  We are taking the DVD player and several videos for the big girls.  Don has a book on CD and I have a couple of magazines and NYT bestseller packed.  Those items should keep us entertained until we reach the city limits of Hot Springs. 

I have to take Maddie to the doctor for a final checkup before we leave and then I am taking myself for a pedicure.  I plan to spend the rest of the day tomorrow doing laundry and packing.

Spring Break can't get her soon enough....

Think I'll Try My Hand....

I don't know what I'm thinking.  I really don't have time to add a personal blog to my already crazy life, but I have an opinion on things from time to, and well, I need a place to vent.  So hear goes:

I entitled my blog, "Old Mommy, New Tricks" because compared to the other mommies I see when I drop Maddie off at daycare, I am old.  Somehow, this little fact had escaped my attention until she came along.  But, let me back up a bit.

My husband and I were already fantasizing about our future empty nest.  At night, we whispered about all the things we planned to do after Skyler leaves for, convert her room into a home theatre, sleep in on the weekends, walk around naked, etc.  But it was like Jesus was listening and laughing at our little fantasies and decided to throw a monkey wrench at us in the form of Madilyn.  Thus, we became the world's oldest parents (or so it seems at times). 

The girls are sixteen and a half years apart.  Acquaintances who haven't seen us in awhile frequently ask if perhaps the child on my hip belongs to Skyler, insinuating that I am old enough to be a grandmother.  At first I was offended, but now I have accepted the fact that I am an old mommy.  But that's OK.  The way I see it, I have a lot of experience and "tricks" up my sleeve from going through this entire process once before.  I still remember how to install a carseat, warm a bottle, burb a baby, and get poop stains out of clothing.

Despite what some believe, babies haven't changed in sixteen years. However, most of their "gadgets" have changed, and my body has changed.  Giving a baby a bath is now painful.  We have a garden tub and she is big enough to move to the far side to escape from me.  Raising this one is going to be a real challenge, but I am willing to learn some new "tricks" to survive. 

So this is the theme of my blog :)