Monday, November 30, 2009

Friend Makin' Monday

Today, I'm joining Amber for Friend Makin' Monday. I like doing these posts because then I don't have to think of something to write about. :) Visit Amber at aefilkins because her blog is so stinkin' cute, and there will be many others posting on this topic too, if you're looking for other bloggers to stalk read.

So, this week's Friend Makin' Monday's topic is a simple survey, which is great because I love to talk and blog about myself. I'm a closet narcissist.

OK, here goes.

1. Favorite Website: Facebook

2. Favorite color: Turquoise

3. Facebook? Yes, I love having FB friends! Jennifer Rivard Yarrington

4. Favorite Christmas song? Let it Snow

5. Christmas tree: Real or fake? Fake, much to my chagrin, but the hubby thinks real ones are too much of a pain to put up.

6. Hottest celebrity? Patrick Stewart and Patrick Dempsey (hee hee - got a thing for the Patricks I guess.) I don't know whether I should admit that I think Zac Efron is hot because I am old enough to be his mother older sister.

7. Favorite restaurant? Mountain Jack's, although there hasn't been one in my town for about 10 years. :(

8. Favorite magazine? Reader's Digest

9. Favorite thing to drink around the holidays? Eggnog, of course, usually with a little something "extra".

10. Favorite Christmas movie? National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My Personal Space

When you're a mom, it becomes essential to have personal space. And often I go into the bathroom to get it. But I will say, in all honesty, that even though the locked door creates some physical distance, there is no separation between me and the rest of my family.


I say this because every single time (you think I'm exaggerating, but I'm not) I go into the bathroom to either take care of business or to take a shower, someone magically appears outside the bathroom door and begins to knock, yell, or otherwise interrupt my little mini vacation. Yes, I do look forward to those little visits. Hmm, maybe there's something subconscious about that incontinence thing.

I haven't had a quiet trip to the bathroom in over 10 years. Even in utero, my children were dictating my bathroom trips. Then, the babies in my bed always sensed the moment that I had strategically chosen to sneak away and would consequently start screaming just as I was getting comfortable. Toddlers would always accompany me into the bathroom attempt to pull themselves up on my knees or peek into the shower and giggle (and what the heck were they laughing at anyway???)

Even 9- and 10-year-olds don't seem to quite grasp the fact that bathroom time should be sacred. No sacrilege intended. One dictionary definition of sacred says this: "secured against violation or infringement as by reverence or sense of right." Absolutely. Shouldn't my bathroom time be secured against violation? Shouldn't my children have reverence for my right to use the bathroom, uninterrupted???

But even the oldest of my children violate my privacy by shouting, "Mom, I need you!" When I respond that I'm in the bathroom, they continue, "But I really NEED you." Um, as if that will make me jump up and attend to their needs in my current state.

I can't imagine that high-powered executives have this problem. They settle in for a mid-morning break, and their secretary comes pounding wildly on the door, "Mr. Jones!!!! There's a call for you on line 2!", to which they politely respond, "Thanks, Alice, I'll take it as soon as I'm finished with this Field and Stream article." I think not.

You may argue that now that my children are in school, I should have some quiet time in the restroom. Not so, because even as they are several miles away, they are still sending me subconscious messages so that I can't even relax and enjoy the time that they are not pounding on the door. And if it's not them, it's the cats.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mean Mama

OK, I did not mean to frighten my children. But I did what had to be done.

I was sitting at my computer the other night when my oldest came to me and said she was very tired and would I come up to say good-night to her? I told her I'd come up in just a few minutes, so she sat and waited next to me.

The second oldest then came in and said she had the hiccups and wouldn't be able to sleep.

What did I do then? What any sane, rational mother would do.

I turned around suddenly and let out a huge, scary, growly yell!

Joy was quite ticked at me for scaring her so, and Hope. . . .well, Hope, being overly tired, buried her face in her chair and started crying. Ooops, I think my plan backfired.

But guess what? The hiccups were gone.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Rude Awakening

Some time ago, my husband bought an intercom system for our children to use in the middle of the night to contact us, instead of having to come into our room. It is a rare night indeed when I am not awakened by at least one of my children - human or feline - between the hours of 10 PM and 6 AM. So now instead of our children coming in to bug me in the night, they can simply stay in their beds and beep us to death.

Well, we didn't actually try this method until last night, although we've had the darned intercom units for about 6 months. We're kind of procrastinators. Anyway, my husband thought last night would be a good time to start since I was feeling sickly. And we need to permanently banish the cats from our room as well, according to my allergist. So, the hubby locked the door and turned on the intercom.

Annoyingly, even after taking a sleeping pill, I woke up around 4 AM and tossed and turned for about an hour. Finally I drifted back into a nice deep sleep, until. . . .


"Honey", I said, "One of the kids is beeping you." No response.


Still he didn't budge. The one problem with his plan is that he sleeps about 10 times more heavily than I do. I wake up when his breathing pattern shifts from "distant thunder" to "dog whistle." He might possibly wake up with an ambulance siren in the room, but it's iffy.


Finally, he rolled over, hit the button, and mumbled, "What?"

From the other end came this adorable little 5-year-old voice, "Daddy, Faith and I are going to go downstairs and watch TV", followed by a little giggle which signified that he thought this process was pretty cool.

"Roger, roger", said my husband, in an official tone.

Ahh, very nice. I started drifting off again.


The hubby rolls over again, "What?"

Same cute voice responds, "Hi!"


Drifting. 2 more minutes go by.



Only giggling and snickering come from the other end now. But my husband is not sufficiently peeved to get out of bed and tell them to knock it off. Meanwhile, I am stifling laughter under the covers.

3 more minutes.


Mumbling hubby: "Yes, now go downstairs."

Milliseconds later. BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP! "Dad, do you read me?"

Dad: "Not any more!" Click.

With the unit turned off, he rolled over to resume his Saturday morning sleep-in.

I, on the other hand, had been laughing so hard that I almost fell out of bed. Kind of hard to go back to sleep after that. So I got up, started my coffee and discovered the 2 little rascals in the living room, still trying to contact Dad, as they had unplugged the unit and brought it downstairs with them so they could continue their little chat-fest with Daddy at dawn.

I think they missed the point.

Friday, November 20, 2009


At least one of my kids has the flu. I am diagnosing it as the Swine Flu, err "H1N1" to be politically correct, because as of last report, my doctor said that the seasonal flu had not surfaced in Michigan yet. So-o-o-o, 102-degree fevers, body aches, chills, sore throat, headache. . . . what does that sound like to you? Yep. It started on Sunday. She stayed home on Monday. I sent her on Tuesday because she had no fever in the AM. The fever came back Tuesday night, so she stayed home Wednesday. I sent her back to school Thursday. She called me at 10:30 AM and asked to come home because she was feeling faint. I made her stay home today just because.

Kid #2 had a temp of 101 last night, and so she also stayed home from school today, against her will, I might add, because she loves school.

The past few days, I've been dragging. This is not unusual. I often get fatigued when I've done too much and the past 2 weeks have been pretty busy. But today. . . .oh, today something else is obviously going on. I may not be swiney, but something is going on. I got 2 kids up for school, and then came back and slept until 10:45. I had to pry myself out of bed simply because I had to pee so badly. I decided to get something to eat. Went downstairs, grabbed a chocolate chip muffin and a little coffee. Hmm, that didn't sit right. But I still had to get groceries. I mean, like I really had to get groceries since the only thing to eat in our house was that chocolate chip muffin and a few well preserved pretzels from inside the sofa cushions. Luckily, the hubs was home, so I was free to go.

As I backed out of the driveway, the thought crossed my mind, "I really don't want to do this", and a few minutes later, "I really don't feel good". But I was driven by the fact that my children were going to have to eat lint for dinner if I didn't do something drastic. Luckily I only had to go to Aldi, which is a very small store where I happen to do a very large amount of my shopping. I got my cart and stepped inside, greeted by the sight of many, many people doing their pre-Thanksgiving shopping as well. Grrr. Get out of my way, people! I'm trying to get this trip done before I hurl! Occasionally, I breathed in through my nose and out through my mouth, the way I did in early labor, before the contractions got really bad. I prayed that I wouldn't contaminate anyone else. More importantly, I prayed that I wouldn't vomit on the canned soup. You know the old adage, "Never shop when you're hungry." Well, that wasn't a problem for me, as I had to force myself to put things into my cart because almost everything seemed repulsive to me. But I had to buy a lot of food - remember lint is on the menu at my house and Thanksgiving dinner is coming up. So I shoved food into the cart as I shoved down the urge to spew.

Finally I got done and tore open a bag of pita chips in the van. I thought maybe I was hungry. And I grabbed some sprite at a drivethrough. Ahhh, crisis averted, at least temporarily. Maybe it was just low blood sugar.

But there's something still going on with me, which is to be expected since I was taking care of a sick kiddo all week. I mean, it takes a lot out of you to sit down and play computer games while your kid lies on the sofa and occasionally barks out commands for you to meet their comfort needs. I took another nap when I got home from shopping. And now I'm sitting with a blanket over my knees because although my face is on fire, my feet are still freezing.

We were going to go to the annual Christmas Tree Lighting in downtown Lansing tonight, "Silver Bells in the City". But that doesn't seem prudent now. So we're going to stay home and put up our own Christmas tree.

I hope I don't puke on the ornaments.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Birthday Boy

I'm writing this post out of obligation to myself. My son probably couldn't care less if I decided not to devot a post to his birthday. He's too busy playing with his bazillion new Legos and recovering from his sugar-induced manic-depressive episodes. But since I wrote about 2 other children's birthdays this year, it wouldn't be fair to leave him out, I guess.

So here's the 5-year-old, as of November 13. I can't believe my BABY is 5. Time definitely flew by the fastest with him.

Here he is with one of the many new Lego toys. Obviously, he's quite thrilled with them. He became less enthusiastic when he actually tried to put one together, a task which was soon delegated to mom & dad, because it required following the tedious directions. And he, of course, being the birthday boy and all, had no time for following directions. I really wanted him to have a basic Lego building set. Do you know how hard it is to find a Lego set that contains JUST LEGO BRICKS??? There are all these specialty sets that require too much thought and effort to have any fun with them. What ever happened to just building? I did find one set of bricks, but even that has a bunch of obscure pieces.
In any case, he definitely has enough Legos to have some fun now. In fact, in his opinion, he may have too many because one of the guests at his birthday party gave him yet another Lego set (after parents & sibs gave him a total of 4 Lego packages). Much to my horror, my son's response to the offensive Lego set was, "More Legos? Lame!" AAAgghh! Luckily, the gift-giver was a 4-year-old who seemed pretty clueless about the comment, but I still corrected my son sharply and insisted that he say thank you AND hug his friend AND play with that darn Lego set before any of his other toys.

Oh, and just for laughs, I'm including pictures of the birthday cake. I've never made an aesthetically pleasing birthday cake. Oh, sure, they all taste scrumptious, but I surely would never win any cake decorating contests. Let's start with the slant, shall we? It doesn't matter where in my oven I place the cake pans, the baked products are always uneven. Always! And on this particular occasion, the finished cake layers refused to come out of the pan in one piece, even though I'm absolutely sure that I greased and floured the pans. So, this sucker is literally glued together with chocolate frosting. GLUED, I tell you!
And this is just to show you that even though I managed to frost practically the entire cake, there were still some portions left uncovered. I'm tellin' ya, cake decorating is not my thing.
But did anyone care? Did it stop my family from inhaling the entire cake in 24 hours? Nope, not at all.
Anyway, happy bloggy birthday to my little dude!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Looking For Christmas Advice

We have an awesome plan for Christmas this year! My whole entire family (including parents & 2 siblings + 1 nephew) is going to Florida for Christmas. We live in Michigan, so the transition to Florida in late December will be fabulous! My parents lived in Cocoa Beach for a few years after they were first married (mid-1960's) while my dad was stationed at Cape Canaveral. My older brother and sister were born in Cocoa Beach. My parents haven't been back in 45 years, so this is their dream - to return to their old stomping grounds. I think it's a "Bucket List" thing for my mom. In addition, my husband's parents, who live in Florida, will be joining us for the week, and then we'll continue on to their house after Christmas.

Sounds like a dream, right? Two weeks in sunny Florida during the snowiest season in Michigan? Yes, I am very excited to get some sunshine and vacation with family for almost 2 weeks.

But there are 2 problems. One is that our children, although they are also thrilled about this trip, are very disappointed that we won't be having a White Christmas. There is something magical about waking up to a snowy Christmas morning. I plan to bring along some Christmas decorations, since we'll be driving, but obviously I can't duplicate the snow.

The 2nd problem is that we have NO money. Zip. Zero. Zilch. We are scraping the bottom of the barrel to make this trip happen, for the sake of family. We've told the kids that this trip IS their Christmas gift. Sounds lame, maybe, but that's the reality. We will have no money to buy gifts for the kids. And of course, we all know that Christmas isn't about the material things, but it's extremely hard, as a parent, to not be able to give my kids presents at Christmas.

I hope that this will be a good chance for us to experience that we don't need all the "stuff" to make Christmas happen. But I'm afraid it will bomb and my kids will be really sad.

Any ideas on how to make this a memorable Christmas???

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Trampoline Incontinence

Yes, you read that right: TRAMP-O-LINE IN-CON-TIN-ENCE! It's just one of the many maladies that I suffer as I begin to age. My children like to jump on the neighbor's trampoline, but I need to be there to supervise them. And who can stand by a trampoline with giggling, squealing children flying through the air and not want to participate? So, on rare occasion, I hop on for some good old-fashioned airborne fun. But much to my chagrin, with every jump, there's a *leak*, *dribble*, *squirt*. I could have just emptied my bladder with every available muscle, and still some tags along for the ride.

It's sad enough that I can't jump on a trampoline without wearing a women's hygiene item, but now the problem has leaked into other areas of my life (ha ha, get it? Leaked!), such as:

Carrying the laundry up the stairs

Carrying the laundry down the stairs

Picking up a child

Sneezing and coughing

Grocery shopping

Watching TV


Sitting at the computer, writing on my blog. . . .oops - gotta go!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

An Open Letter

To the person who first uttered the phrase: "A woman's work is never done".

I hate you.

Why would I harbor such venom toward someone I've never met? Because your stupid saying reverberates through my mind every time I walk through my house and behold the chaos. It renders me hopeless that my work will indeed ever be done and is often verified by the fact that I have literally just finished laundering the entire family's wardrobe, and yet there are piles of dirty laundry growing like mold in every hidden corner. I can never see where it comes from, it just appears.

I hate you because you are right. And I wish you weren't. But the truth remains: for every day I spend scrubbing the house until it is spotless, there will be 3 more days worth of grocery list-writing, appointment-making, and cookie-baking. For every hour I use for a quick tidy of the bathroom, the rest of the house will have been used as a substitute and will require many more hours to disinfect and deodorize. For every moment I simply sit down and rest, alas, it is not only a moment's worth of dirt that accumulates. Somehow, there's a hidden force responsible for the constant dirtying of my environment that has nothing whatsoever to do with my children's actions, since they are never messy and they always pick up their things.

Dear sayer of the clever quotation above: I still hate you.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Annabelle and Payton

Be forewarned: You may find this post boring if you are not an animal lover.

I have written about my birth children a number of times before. But I haven't really written about my 2 adopted feline children. I got to thinking about them the other day. Our family had cats when I was growing up, but I don't think I was nearly as attached to them as I am to these kitties. I didn't have the kind of mother-love that I have for Payton and Annabelle.

This is Annabelle. She was our first cat. Before that, we had only owned 3 fish and an African dwarf frog, all of whom suffered an untimely demise. Annabelle was a gift for Faith's 5th birthday. Faith had a fear of cats and dogs, so we got her a cat - isn't that nice of us??? We figured if we got a kitten for her, she would not be afraid and grow to love the cat over time. I mean, who couldn't love a cuddly little thing like this:

It turned out that Faith couldn't! Well, at least not for the first week. Faith finally warmed up to her new kitty after several days of being carried around, hopping from one piece of furniture to another so the kitten wouldn't "get" her, and asking if we could take Annabelle back to the pet shop. Sounds pretty traumatic for a 5th birthday present, huh? Well, she finally grew to love Annabelle, after the phobia had worn off.

The first night Annabelle spent with us - as a teeny, tiny kitten - she went into Evan's room and he started screaming, "Get her out of here!" Imagine! Children being terrorized by a miniature creature. But we thought it best not to make him suffer through it, so we shut her out of the kids' rooms. So, Annabelle struggled up the side of our bed (she could barely make it) and planted herself firmly between mine and Al's pillows, and there she slept all night long.

Here's Annabelle now - she grew into quite a tank!

Eventually we felt that Annabelle needed a playmate. So Hope asked for a kitten for her birthday this past spring. We went to a few pet shops in search of a kitten, and all we found were 2 $600 Persians. That wasn't gonna happen! So, we went to Petco and they had some cats from the local animal shelter up for adoption. Well, to be exact, they had one cat left up for adoption - Payton. Hope ran to her and begged, "This is the one I want!" Payton was a 2-year-old, mangy stray. She had all her shots, etc. but still. . . she wasn't a cute, cuddly kitten. But Hope insisted, so we adopted Payton. As soon as we got her home, she ran under our bed and didn't come out for the rest of the day. Poor thing was probably terrified. My husband had to coax her out with cat treats.

The first night she was with us, she began exploring the house. I got up to use the bathroom and stopped to pet her in the hallway. She flopped over on her side and tried to grab my hands, but her muscles were so atrophied that she couldn't even play. And her hair was so coarse and would fall out in clumps. She could be sitting entirely still, and you would see tufts of hair wafting through the air.
Now she is a very full, soft, furry and playful cat. Very healthy and still very kitten-like, despite the fact that she's about 2 1/2. I think maybe she's a little "slow". But it doesn't matter, we love her the way she is. She's the one who will now climb in our beds in the early morning and nibble on our fingers and toes, if they're exposed. She loves to play and chase anything that moves. She has been known to pick up small toys in her mouth, toss them around, and chase after them!
You may wonder how Payton and Annabelle got along. Well, there was a bit of hissing and growling at first. But they've grown accustomed to each other and now play quite well together. They have even become cohorts in crime as you will see in this video. Annabelle figured out that her treats were kept in this cupboard, and then she figured out how to open it. Time to find a new hiding place!

And those are my two feline babies. Hope you liked meeting them!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Why Should Kids Have All The Fun?

It occurred to me while accompanying my squealing children on their Halloween quest for candy: Kids have all the fun! They get to dress up and beg for thousands of pounds of candy from complete strangers once a year. (What's up with that anyway? We're always telling them not to take candy from strangers, and then once a year, we buy them cute costumes, bring them to strangers' houses and encourage our children to take candy from them!) They also get to go to birthday parties and play silly games and gorge themselves on cake & ice cream. They get to pretend that an old, fat man in a red suit comes down their chimney and brings them scads of toys, while us parents get thrilling gifts like socks and toasters. Then at Easter, a big fat bunny (Here, I think Santa is actually moonlighting - I mean, who on this planet works only once a year???) brings them another installation of candy, enough to last them until the 4th of July. And of course, on the 4th, they have candy thrown at them (from more strangers, I might add) during the parade. They get their faces painted, play games and win prizes (more candy!) You get the picture.

So, here's my idea: I'm going to invent a new holiday. On this day, moms will go door to door, carrying large decorative wicker baskets. At each home that participates (which will be signified by the burning of scented candles on the porch), we will ring the doorbell and politely ask, "Please pamper me." Then the hostess will drop goodies into our basket. We will squeal with delight as we receive bubble bath, coffee shop gift cards, potpourri, and free passes day spas. And of course, being well-mannered women, our hostesses will invite us in and we'll indulge in chocolate, fine wine, and intelligent conversation. Yes, this will be a holiday that all women will savor. I haven't exactly worked out the fine details yet. I mean, I guess we'll have to figure out a rotation of who plays the hostess and who goes door to door. Maybe we'll take turns according to age or alphabetical order or something like that. (I would involve the men to do the pampering, but they really haven't got a clue, do they? No, no, no. We women have to stick together for things like this. And I, for one, would enjoy being the hostess as much as being the guest.)

And what will the men and children do while we have this special day of pampering? I don't really care! They can get together and eat leftover tuna casserole and play endless games of Chutes and Ladders for all I care.

I am not entirely cold-hearted. I guess we could invent a men's holiday too. They could show up at each other's houses with power tools, a 6-pack, and a working television, and it wouldn't really matter what happened after that. They would have the making for a great day.

Back to the issue at hand: All in favor of a women's pampering holiday, say "I".