Saturday, May 31, 2008

My Book Binge

So today is the last day of May, and the Book Binge is over. Would you look at how many books Mary P. has read? And she has more toddlers in her house than I do! (She's their caregiver, if you haven't read her blog before.)

So here's my list. I mentioned some of these in yesterday's post. Some of them are really good.

T is for Trespass, by Sue Grafton. 4 stars. For the first time, Grafton alternates between narrating the story from P.I. Kinsey Millhone's point of view and the perspective of the villain. Therefore, you know what crimes the villain is committing; the suspense comes from whether Kinsey will be able to stop her in time.

Don't Stop Laughing Now. Two stars. Anthology of humor for Christian women. I read funnier blogs on a daily basis, Christian or not.

Practically Perfect in Every Way, Jennifer Niesslein. Four stars. I'm going to review this for a site soon. The author, the co-founder of Brain, Child magazine, took on the task of following several self-help gurus' advice for every area of her life: organizing her home, parenting, marriage, health, spirituality, etc. It was an interesting read; Niesslein is able to examine what's going on in her life in light of what she's reading, and to make relevant points about modern life for the reader to think about.

Fairacre Festival, by Miss Read. Four stars. For my escapism, I don't read about movie stars in L.A. or editors in New York. I like cozy novels about small English towns where the drama is small but real to the people involved, and life moves at a slower pace.

The Areas of My Expertise, by John Hodgman. Three stars. I thought I'd never get through this book of random, mostly made-up trivia. Parts of it were really funny (FYI, John Hodgman has since become the "PC" in the Apple ads) but others didn't appeal to me, and I kept putting the book down to read something else.

The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini. Four stars. I kept thinking I was probably the last avid reader in the world not to have read this book, but I finally did because I figured it had to have something to recommend it since so many people loved it. It's a story about how two boys who grow up together are torn apart by the events in Afghanistan from the seventies up to the present day. Powerful and emotionally affecting.

The Wonder Spot, by Melissa Bank. Three stars. The story of Sophie Applebaum, a young woman's attempts to find love and a career in New York City (if it sounds familiar, it's nothing like SATC.) Here's what I said on I thought the book was well-written and perceptive but I got tired of Sophie's passivity and her inability to commit to a relationship or a career. And as so many other readers have commented, I thought the ending was contrived. My favorite part of the book is actually the chapter in which her sharp-tongued grandmother has a stroke and becomes sweet--if only it weren't combined with a description of an annoying doctor Sophie is dating. Although each chapter can stand alone, Bank makes desultory attempts to connect the chapters by reminding us of certain characters, but they drop in and out of Sophie's life in a disconcerting way. Bank is a talented writer, and this book does aim higher than chick lit, but the book is too detached to engage my empathy.

Okay, that was long-winded. But that's what I do when I talk about books. Feel free to ask follow-up questions or give me your own recommendations. (BTW, Mrs. Romero, I checked Twilight out of the library this week and will start it soon.)

Friday, May 30, 2008

A Quiz No One Tagged Me For

I got this quiz from an excerpt of a book called Scrapbook Play published by Simple Scrapbooks magazine. I want that book and another one called Scrapbook Shortcuts, Quizzes, and Questions. One of these days I will probably turn these "all about me" blog posts into scrapbook pages--just little slices of life, about things that I like, to capture who I am right now. Not because I'm that narcissistic, but for my kids and their kids. Wouldn't you want to know what your grandma was like when she was young? (I am too still young. Thirty-two is young. Ahem.)

Of course, if I do scrapbook these, that will mean I'll need someone to take some pictures of me because there aren't any of me by myself. This year. That I like. So getting a picture with those three criteria will be important (hint: the last one will be harder to achieve than the first two.)

I love reading others' answers, too. So if you want to do this one, consider yourself tagged! Just let me know you've posted it and I'll come over and comment.

All about Things Quiz

· One thing I’d grab if my house were on fire: my scrapbooks (not really one thing, but I couldn’t choose one).

· One thing I wish I could throw away: The box of junk on the back porch I am waiting for my husband to take to the dumpster at his shop.

· One thing I’ll never, ever throw away: My babies’ first outfits (sniff). Did I say I wasn't sentimental about my children growing up? Well, I AM--unpredictably so.

· Something I lost and still miss: A black leather jacket I left at a Logan’s Steakhouse which was stolen that night, since the girl at the restaurant insisted it was gone, the next day (probably while wearing it, grrr.) I now have another leather jacket, but it’s the principle of the thing!

· Something I’ve kept since childhood: my Little House on the Prairie and Chronicles of Narnia paperbacks. If my daughter scorns them, it will break my heart.

· A food item I never run out of: Flour tortillas. They are a great substitute for bread, which we do sometimes run out of.

· A household brand I’m very loyal to: Goldfish crackers.

· Something I sleep with every night: My husband! Also, an extra pillow.

· One thing that’s on my wish list: Crest WhiteStrips—I should just buy them already. But I am cheap. Cheap, with yellow teeth.

· Something I take with me wherever I go: My purse

· Something that makes me smile when I see it: The drawing currently featured on my refrigerator by Miss Pink. It’s a girl worm wearing a sombrero and a necklace. Ole!

· Something my children fight over: Anything that one has and the other wants.

· Something I hate to clean: The kitchen floor, because it will get dirty again right away.

· Something I show off when people visit: The furniture my husband built.

· Something I hide when people visit: Toys. And piles of books.

· Something I’m embarrassed to admit I like: Sappy ‘80s love songs.

· Something I collect: Nothing. I don’t have room to display a collection. But when I was a kid I collected apples. I got tired of people buying apple stuff for me, so I decided I wasn’t a collector.

· Something I avoid at all costs: Well, I think it’s impossible and unhealthy to avoid anything at ALL costs. I hate conflict, but sometimes you can’t avoid it--and sometimes you have to face it head-on.

Book blog

Psst...if you want to read about some books, you could go here. I post on months with five Fridays.

I may be back later--we're going to two essential places: the library and Target. Not necessarily in that order.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Little Too Exciting Day

It turned out that showing my white skin was no problem at the pool. We ended up going to the subdivision pool because the other friend had something come up. It was great—not too hot, our kids played well together and we were the only people there, so I wasn’t shy about being the opposite of tan.

Around noon it started to rain and we were gathering up our things to go, when my friend L said, “We may have a problem. I think my key to the gate is in my car.”

You see, when we came in, the gates were open for the lawn guys and we just walked in without having to use her key. When the lawn guys left, the gate locked behind them. So there we were, the only people there, locked inside a very high metal fence.

We briefly tried to climb over the fence, but there was no way. She’d left her broken cell phone at home, and mine was in my car.

And it started to rain harder.

We gathered the kids under the clubhouse roof and tried to use the pay phone. It wouldn’t take change or let us make a collect call. Then L called 911, which did go through, but the lady didn’t want to send anyone because she said it wasn’t a real emergency. To us, it certainly felt real, because we didn’t know what else to do. We moms were staying calm, but in a weird, frozen-faced way, so that our five-year-olds knew something was up and were starting to get scared and cry. L called the dispatcher back and she sent the fire department out. All we needed was for someone to open her car (she had her car keys) and get the gate keys. Which was accomplished in about 1 minute. The firefighters were very nice and did not even make fun of us when we thanked them and apologized for making them rescue us.

On the plus side, Mr. Blue was excited about getting to see a real, albeit small, fire truck. Our relief was so great we decided to go through the drive-through at McDonald’s and go to L’s house to eat.

And now I need to go take a shower because I smell like sunscreen and sweat and a crisis averted.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

WFMW: Smelling Good

Like most girls, I like things that smell good. But I just can't use scented candles on a regular basis. I sometimes burn them when company's coming over, but for daily use, I'm concerned that Mr. Blue might get too fascinated with the fire or I might forget it was burning and leave, and worrying about a burned child or house is one more worry I don't need right now.

At our Mother's Day Sunday School breakfast, I won one of these:

Sorry it's blurry--I don't really know what I'm doing on this blog. I just type and read your comments. Anyway, it's a WoodWick reed diffuser. The reeds go inside the jar of fragrance and diffuse the fragrance into the atmosphere (hence the name "diffuser!" I am a brilliant writer, aren't I?) I got the "Linen" one and I love the smell--that's probably the one I would have chosen for myself. It's subtle yet fresh.

Anyway, I'm sure I wouldn't have spent $24.99 on it for myself, thinking it wouldn't be worth it, but if it lasts 3 months like they claim, I'll definitely get a refill. Right now, it's working for me!

For more ideas and tips, go here.

A Whiter Shade of Pale

It’s raining right now, which makes me sleepy, but so far I have successfully resisted going to sleep (I really don’t NEED a nap, but to me naps are like chocolate—I hate to turn down the opportunity.) Instead, I wanted to talk about what I should do with my skin.

First, I plan on keeping my skin. It’s all I’ve got to hold myself together (thank you! I’ll be here all week!) I have come to accept that I have white skin and that’s all there is to it. When I choose foundation, I’m either the palest or the next-palest shade. Most of the time it doesn’t bother me and I wear shorts or skirts with my white legs showing unashamedly (although sometimes when I’m dressing up I use Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs, which gives me just a hint of color without making my legs noticeably darker than the rest of my skin.)

I won’t get a real tan, because I don’t tan unless I burn first, and that’s a recipe for skin cancer. I’m SO glad I didn’t bake in the sun or tanning beds as a teenager, and really I don’t know why I accidentally did the sensible thing and stayed pale. I did try the sunless tanners, though, and whooo—I was a pretty tangerine color after the first few tries.

I hear sunless tanners have gotten better, and I’m wondering if I need to go get one. Like, tonight, because a friend invited us to her pool tomorrow and people, my thighs could probably blind somebody. And that would not be good guest behavior, I think.

Still, I hesitate because I am lazy. I hate exfoliating and rubbing all the lotion in evenly and wondering where to stop on my neckline and most of all I hate the smell. Don’t tell me to try Jergens Natural Glow, either. I am happy it works for other people, but it didn’t work for me—at least not the Light color. I couldn’t tell any difference, after I rubbed it in every stinking night. I put in the effort and it failed me. (Did I mention I am lazy? Yes, I consider rubbing lotion into my legs making an effort.) I would try it again with the Medium shade but the smell was pretty self-tanner-y. At some point I was planning to try another brand but this swimming day is too soon to see any results from that.

You know what, we are only going to be in the water for an hour or so. I think they will just have to see me in all my pearly glory.

Or I could hope it just keeps raining.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Week in Review, 5/18--5/24


1. Miss Pink said, “Voila!” in the right context. I said, “Do you know what that means?” and she said, “Sure—it means ‘there it is!’” I just LOVE HER.

2. She has also learned to turn a cartwheel thanks to gymnastics. She sometimes does it perfectly, but doesn’t get discouraged when it’s not perfect. I’m so thankful for her confidence, you don’t even know.

3. We’re going swimming this week. School's out and summer is officially here. Plus I don't have to rush around getting the kids ready in the morning.

Not liking

1. No holiday tomorrow for me. (To me a holiday is not when I have no work to do, because when would that ever happen, with the kids around? It’s when my husband is home to do half of the kid wrangling.) Justin has a lot of work to catch up on, which is good for his business, so I’ll stop whining now.

2. Mr. Blue is getting his two-year-old molars. As Miss Pink says, “Ouchy-wawa.” (I think this is how she hears “Ay Chihuahua.”)

3. We went out to eat too much this weekend, which means we spent too much money. Oh well, I'll cook next weekend.

Friday, May 23, 2008

What's Going On

Last night was Miss Pink's preschool "graduation." It was cute and she was so proud of herself. But I didn't cry--I'm just not sentimental about things like that, and besides, I'm just happy she's going to kindergarten next year. When she was a newborn, my husband and I would lie in bed after we'd gotten her to sleep, knowing she was going to wake us up again in a few hours, and say, "Well, we kept her alive another day." Back then, it seemed an impossibly long time until she'd be a kindergartener. I count it as an accomplishment that we are all still alive and happy to be here.

Anyway, it was a little sad that Miss Pink's beloved teacher couldn't be there because she had gotten really sick. We all knew that for this teacher to miss the program, she had to be REALLY sick. Seriously, she is one of the best teachers I have ever met--and I was a teacher, so I've known quite a few good ones. She has a real gift with young children. So we were sorry not to say a last goodbye and to give her our gift in person. But she is coming to a classmate's pool party in a couple of weeks, so we will get to see her then.

I had a feeling the excitement of the last day of school was going to wear off for Miss P, since she loves school so much. And sure enough, that night there were real tears: "I miss Ms. Teacher! I am so sad that I don't get to see her anymore." I held her and empathized. "I know you miss her. I'll miss her too. I'm just glad you had such a good teacher that you feel this way about her."

By bedtime she was okay and finding out about the party today made her happy. I hope she loves school for a few more years at least.

Speaking of school, the preschool where Miss P has been going for three years decided to have a 2-year-old class this year! Last year they did two 3-year-old classes instead and the 3-day one never filled up, so now they will have a 2-day for both 2 and 3 year olds. (Was that confusing enough, with all the 2s and 3s?) Anyway, I had Mr. Blue on a waiting list at another school, but I wasn't pursuing any other schools. But when the school we already know and love told me they could take him next year, I jumped at the chance. Two mornings a week, four hours at a time... where do I sign up? Plus he is familiar with the school and always wants to play on the playground or with the toys in the classes when we go in. I asked him if he wants to go to school and he said, "Yis," without any hesitation at all.

One last thing--I met with my new psychiatrist today. (I've never had a psychiatrist before, so any psychiatrist would've been my first.) I feel really good about working with her. She was very helpful and understanding. We decided to up the dosage of my antidepressant one notch and see how that goes. Basically she thinks it was just a little slip back into the anxiety part of my depression and we are not going to let it go back any farther. Good to know.

I'm glad I have had support (both from y'all in the computer and in real life) to get this kind of help. Some people are not so lucky. A friend of a friend is really suffering from panic attacks right now, and our mutual friend (who has also been through the same thing) was encouraging her to see a psychiatrist and possibly go to counseling, but she is not ready to take that step. They don't have insurance and her husband didn't want to go that route for financial reasons. At first her doctor didn't want to prescribe anything but finally she got the courage to insist, so at least she is on an antidepressant. I am praying for her because I know how it feels to be in that kind of pain, and to wonder if you are ever going to get better. If you can remember her in your thoughts and prayers, I would really appreciate it.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

What Does "Modest" Mean?

When I was pregnant with my first child, I chose not to find out the baby’s sex, and was secretly convinced I was having a boy. I think I wanted a girl first, but didn’t want to get my hopes up. At the same time, I remember thinking that some things would be a lot simpler with a boy.

For example, the idea of modesty. For a boy: “Don’t go outside in your underwear. Or stick your hand down your pants in public.” Done!

For a girl—it’s not so simple. Especially not in my mind. I was raised with a rigid idea of modesty, which was slightly different across our denomination, but basically, we wore skirts or dresses below the knee—no pants or shorts; sleeveless tops or necklines below the collarbone were forbidden. It was restrictive, but the guidelines were easy to follow: either it was acceptable or it wasn’t; there weren’t any gray areas. I got very good at assessing what would fit the rules. When I first got married, Justin would point out clothes he thought would look good on me, and I’d say, “That’s too low-cut” or “If it were two inches longer” without even trying it on.

I always thought it was pretty silly. If someone gets lustful over my upper arms or my kneecap, they are the ones with the problem, not me. So when things started changing in our church and in our family, I was happy to change, too. Guess what? Pants are more modest when you’re doing almost anything that involves small children. And strange men have not started hitting on me due to the (admittedly awe-inspiring) sight of my blindingly white arms.

Yet my daughter is growing up in a world where arms aren’t the only skin showing. Oh no. Girls are showing things that in my day, we wouldn’t have shown in a bathing suit (which also wasn't allowed in the company of boys.) I've already had to explain that Miss Pink will not be the owner of a Bratz doll. “Why not?” she asked innocently; to her, they’re pretty. They appeal to little girls, who like glitter and fake fur and leopard print and high heels and don’t understand the implications of cropped tops and ultra-low-rise jeans.

Here was my first test at explaining the modesty principle. “Because…” I paused. I couldn’t say, “Because clothes like that will make boys want to have sex with you. More than they already will, of course.” I said, “Because they wear inappropriate clothes. That means they show parts of their bodies that they should keep covered up.”

“Like their stomachs?”

“Right. And they wear too much makeup for young girls.” She knows I won’t let her wear my makeup (other than lip gloss). I’ve told her it’s because she doesn’t need it; the makeup is to make my skin look like hers.

“Okay.” She hasn’t asked for a Bratz doll since. She accepted my rules just like I accepted the rule that made my mother hire someone to turn a pair of overalls into a jumper. That was just the way it was, at five years old.

But it won’t always be this way. She will want to know what our boundaries are so she can push against them. I know this. This topic just came up with one of my friends and two other mothers whose oldest daughters are around 10. When my friend said she couldn’t stand Bratz, they just smiled in a way that meant, Oh these delusional women who think they can set unrealistic rules. One of them said, “You have to pick your battles.” And the other one said, “Or you’ll be fighting all the time.”

I thought about it and I could see their point—I guess. Apparently because they didn’t make a big deal about Bratz, their daughters got tired of playing with them within a year and the dolls went into the next garage sale. I could understand that when parents make a big ol’ honkin’ deal over something, the kids are more likely to push for it. I also knew what would have happened in my childhood home if I had continued to push for something I wanted that my parents had said no to: I wouldn’t have gotten it. And I would have lost some other privileges for continuing to argue and demand. That’s because in our house, my parents did pick their battles, and when they picked one, they were going to win it. Period.

I believe we do have to choose our battles—I just think we, and not our kids, need to be the ones choosing them. And for me, modesty is a pretty important battle. I know I've got to swim upstream—about 95% of American popular culture will be telling my daughter that she should wear this and look like this in order to attract this kind of attention, and if she doesn’t end up pregnant or infected with a sexually transmitted disease, she may be the proud owner of an eating disorder in order to fit into the “sexy” clothes.

I really want Miss Pink to like herself—body, mind, and spirit. I want her to respect herself enough that she doesn’t feel she has to take her clothes off to get guys’ attention. That she knows she is precious and valuable and any guy who wants her had better work his butt off proving he’s worthy (or her daddy will have to have a little “conversation” with him.) I don’t want her to think her inherent worth lies in the extent to which she can conform to the plastic-surgery-enhanced “ideal” woman she will see pictures of everywhere.

Sure, I want her to look cute and fashionable. I don’t want her to feel like a total dork, the way I used to whenever I wore my long denim skirts around non-Pentecostal people. I’ll make an effort to let her express herself through her looks. I’m just saying now that I’m not giving up my right to set boundaries for my kids just because I don’t want to listen to them whining.

Someday, I believe she’ll thank me. Because even though my parents didn’t let me dress exactly like my peers, they did instill in me a healthy self-respect and a sense of what true modesty is, and now I am grateful.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Week in Review, 5/12--5/18

Peachy keen

1. I went to Goodwill for the first time in literally years and scored a new pair of Banana Republic trouser jeans for $4.99. Also a couple of tee shirts (one has the London underground logo that says “Mind the Gap” and I love that) and a pair of jeans for Mr. Blue and a jean skirt and (pink) dress for Miss Pink—all for under $20. Also, today I got an Ann Taylor cardigan (it’s not old-lady at all, I promise) for $7 at a discount store. Now we REALLY don’t need any more clothes, even at those prices.

2. On Friday, we went to meet friends at Central Market’s outdoor grill and had burgers while the kids played in the play area. We were sitting right by the speakers so we couldn’t hear each other while the band was playing, but it was still fun.

3. And after that we went to Curly’s Frozen Custard and the flavor of the month was cappuccino, which was SO GOOD.

4. I made a playlist of ’80s songs, which I fully intend to add to, and nobody can stop me. Muahahahaha!


1. Our electricity rate is going up. Just in time for summer. I especially love the way the letter included a graph that showed how much less the rate increase is compared to other expenses like gasoline and groceries. Thanks, Gigantic Electricity Company, for reminding me that ALL my expenses have increased and I will have less money than ever! I feel SO much better now!

2. Scrapbooking day was canceled at the church. I was looking forward to going—mostly because we sit around and talk and eat chocolate more than we scrapbook.

3. I’ve noticed that my cooking efforts go downhill as the week progresses. On Monday and Tuesdays, we have good meals; on Wednesday things get a little sketchier due to group meetings that night, and by Thursday, we usually have breakfast for dinner or leftovers. I forgot to defrost the chicken for a soup I was planning to make this Thursday, so instead we went out for Chinese food. No one complained (including me), but I can’t help noting how many times I flake out on Thursdays.

4. It’s going to be in the high 90s this week. The time when I am unhappy about living in Texas is nigh upon me.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

6 Things About Me

Mrs. Romero tagged me!

1. I like everything coffee flavored except hot coffee. Well, when it’s really cold I might drink a mocha. But in general I prefer frappucinos and coffee ice cream and tiramisu and any mocha-flavored sweet thing. I’m beginning to see the problem: I like my coffee to be a dessert.

2. I don’t really like massages. My husband thinks I’m crazy, but it’s true—I can take them or leave them. Thirty minutes after a professional massage, I feel exactly the same as I did before, so what’s the point of spending $50?

3. Until this year I thought I was not a jewelry person. Boy, was I wrong. I am totally a jewelry person. After I got my Mother’s Day present, I must have been acting kind of giddy because Miss Pink said, “Mama, I’ve never seen you act so excited.”

4. I play Scrabble against the computer, and I usually win—but if I start getting behind, I cheat. I use the “Best Plays” feature to score a play that nets me 47 points so I can stay ahead. (I only choose the play if I actually know the word, though. I can’t cheat that much. Yes, I know this is illogical.)

5. It is virtually impossible for me to keep myself from bobbing my head and/or mouthing the lyrics to certain songs while I am on the treadmill, even though the mirror in front of me shows me how dorky I look doing it. Go ahead—I dare you not to move your head to “Love Shack.” It can’t be done!

6. I sort of have a crush on this guy who is on my kids’ favorite TV show, Hi-5. They watch it every day and I watch him. Now that I’ve confessed, I feel better.

I tag Le Guz (I'm not linking so she can decide where she wants to do this meme), womaninawindow, and gyl_again!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Listening to Mommy's "HiPod"

Next thing he'll be saying, "Do you mind? I'm trying to listen--stop taking my picture! GOD, Mom!"

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

WFMW: A Place of Safety

Mr. Blue has learned to ride a bike. Yes, it’s the smallest one they make, with training wheels of course—but he’s not even 2 ½! We’re impressed. He first learned to ride a tricycle, then moved on to borrowing his sister’s bike, and within a week was pedaling like a pro.

Which brought up a question: when the kids want to ride their bikes (and they do, multiple times a day) and I don’t want to be out in the front yard watching them (and I usually don’t), plus our driveway is sloped and the sidewalks aren’t great, what to do?

I move the car outside and let them play in the garage. If I’m not with them, I put the garage door down so Mr. Blue won’t make a break for it. (One time he got out of the back yard and I couldn’t find him for a couple of minutes, and I thought my heart would explode with fear.) They are happy riding around in circles. I let them draw on the floor with sidewalk chalk, or blow bubbles—anything messy is fine with me. I can look through the window and check on them from time to time, but they’re safe and can come in and out when they want to.

And that works for me and the kids! For other tips, go here.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Week in Review, 5/4--5/11

And the week in review is baaack. First I skipped it because I didn’t have any complaints, and then I got thrown off the Horse of Mental Health (shut up, I know that is a stupid metaphor.) I won’t be bragging about how perfect my life is any time soon, I’ll tell you that much.


1. I had a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend. Saturday was more for me, and Sunday we spent with my mom. I had a nap Saturday morning, and while Justin took Miss Pink shopping for my presents, Mr. Blue had a nap and I had two glorious hours to write and read and scrapbook. Bliss.

2. THEN—this deserves its own point—they gave me my presents, which were a) a microplane grater, which I had suggested (actual retail price: $12.99) because for some reason I won’t buy it for myself although clearly it wouldn’t break the bank, and b) a strand of pearls that came from a jeweler and not Target. ZOMGWOW!!! I was TOTALLY not expecting that. Justin remembered me saying offhandedly months ago, “Someday I want some pearls.” It was not even a hint! Then on Sunday night he cleaned up the filthy kitchen. The man is a keeper, I tell ya. Plus he gave me adorable children. So his position as Husband is secure.

3. Miss Pink writes me sweet notes that go like this: “MOMMY I LOVE YOU AL MY HART” and signs her name. Mr. Blue let his daddy hold his hand to write his name and then drew a wobbly oval which he announced was a football. How can people think there are no differences between the sexes?

4. Totally unrelated but true: the double thickness white tee (which WAS from Target) was the way to go. The LAST thing I need is a paper-thin white tee shirt.

5. Remember how I didn’t want to be without a car while mine was at the body shop? My dad went out of town and let me borrow his car while he’s gone. Next time I get agitated when things go awry, remind me that somehow things always work out. Maybe I’ll listen to you better than I do when my husband says that same thing.

6. Much better week--sleeping at night, no distress. Keep that in mind when you read #2 below.

Not so awesome

1. The workout shorts I bought in my size at Wal-Mart are too big. This is not because I have lost weight —I know because none of my other clothes are too big. Geez, vanity sizing at Wal-Mart—what is this world coming to?

2. I filled out a zillion forms before I go to see the psychiatrist. On the bright side, based on the questions, I realize I am going to be a very easy patient for them—no suicide attempts or hospitalization, no drugs or violence or prison or language barrier or really anything except I can’t sleep when I get anxious. On the other hand, I used to volunteer for the county MHMR and it makes me feel weird to be filling out the types of forms I used to file for people who REALLY had problems. I was raised to be the person who helps, not the person who needs help. I guess this is another post. Nothing wrong with getting help, as y’all pointed out in the comments.

3. The kids have times of playing together now, which is great—but a lot of the time, it only lasts five minutes before one or both of them is screaming with fury. I am SO tired of being the U.N. going in on peacekeeping missions.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Things I Say Every Day (At Least Once, with Variations)

  • Yes, you can have waffles for breakfast.
  • It’s almost ready—be patient.
  • We have to hurry so we won’t be late!
  • You’ve watched enough TV today; find something else to do.
  • Yes, I’ll read you a book.
  • [Upon hearing piercing screams] What’s the problem?
  • Just a minute; Mommy’s on the computer.
  • You only need a Band-Aid if it’s bleeding.
  • No, you can’t have any more candy/gum/strawberry milk/cereal for lunch.
  • If you get that out, you’re going to have to clean it up.
  • Say, “I’m sorry”/ “thank you” / “you’re welcome.”
  • You have to eat two more bites of meat to get dessert.
  • You can cry, but you can’t throw a fit. If you throw a fit, you have to: go in your room where I don’t have to listen to you / be put in your crib for two minutes where I don’t have to listen to you.
  • It’s time to get these kids ready for bed.
  • Where’s your blue blanket/stuffed puppy? Did you take it outside again?
  • I’m sorry I got upset earlier.
  • I love you.
  • No, that doesn’t mean you can stay up. Go to sleep.
  • I love you. Good night.

Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Stacy and Clinton: "We Told You So!"

Why you might want to listen to the style gurus and change into a cute outfit instead of staying in your track pants and t-shirt all day: You might remember that your daughter's school will be hosting a Mother's Tea that night at 6:30 pm, meaning that you will need your husband to be home to take care of the little guy;

However, said husband is playing in a golf tournament an hour away from you and doesn't know anything about the Tea and when he needs to come home;

Plus, he left his phone in the truck so he can enjoy the tournament; therefore, he hasn't gotten either of the messages you left him;

Plus, it's after 5:00 and you need to get some chicken for dinner, feed the kids and yourself, get dressed in something stylish, do your hair and makeup (because they are taking a picture of you and your daughter for the yearbook--MUST NOT EMBARRASS THE OFFSPRING TOO BADLY IN FUTURE YEARS), find someone to keep Mr. Blue, get the kids presentable, take Mr. Blue to ANGELIC friends' house, and pull into the school parking lot with 2 minutes to spare. Whew!

It was SO worth it to hear the children's angelic little voices chirping out the songs their teachers had taught them. Like the finale, set to the classic tune of "My Bologna Has a First Name":

My mom's Number One, the best in all the world
She is not a boy, but she's kinda not a girl
I don't know her age, I asked but she won't say
I'll stop asking soon and wish her Happy Mother's Tea Day!

I especially love that I'm "kinda not a girl." I feel so secure in my femininity. Good thing I wore makeup and jewelry after all.

Plus, there was cake, brownies, and a chocolate fountain, which made it all worthwhile. I mean, the love of a little child is precious and everything, but CHOCOLATE...let's just say the school knows how to honor moms.

Thank you all so much for the kind words and encouragement yesterday. Each comment meant a lot to me. As a preacher's kid who spent a lot of years trying to be perfect, I can't tell you what it means to me to use this space as a real journal of the journey I am on--and to encounter such wonderful friends along the way! I did wonder after I hit publish if I was scaring off any of the newer readers (come back, new readers! I promise I don't always sound like an alienated goth girl holed up in her bedroom!) I guess what I'm saying is, thanks for letting me be real.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

How It Feels To Be Me Right Now

Apprehensive but not too intensely anxious. I made an appointment with a psychiatrist and boy, let me tell you, I had worked myself into a tidy little internal knot about calling the nurse at my regular doctor’s office and asking for a recommendation since it felt like I was firing the regular doctor, who had done a good job, but I felt it was time for someone who has studied these medicines specifically for several years to be the one tinkering around with my dosage, but seriously I didn’t want the regular doctor to feel bad…It was so hard not to say all that to the nurse. “DON’T HATE ME BECAUSE I’M LEAVING YOU!” Um, yeah. If I’d done that, I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t have just recommended a psychiatrist, but a nice quiet stay in the nervous hospital.

The nurse was fine with my abandonment, but she didn’t have any recommendations, and I’d already found out that the doctor one of my friends sees wasn’t taking new patients. So I had to just start calling doctors who take my insurance. I decided to start with the women, in order of who’s closest to me, or maybe just if I recognized the street they’re on. The first few were either out of the office or had moved and left no new phone number even in the phone book. I found one who would schedule an appointment, pending acceptance of my insurance. Within 48 hours I’ll know if I need to renew the search. I’m pretty sure I’ll feel like a reject if they don’t want me, even though it’s pretty clear that won’t happen and even if it did, it’d be the insurance’s fault, not mine. It still feels better to have an appointment, even if it's 2 weeks away.

God, I’m a mess. I’m a lot better than I was when I first went on meds, but this last week f’ed me up royally and I feel like I might start "inappropriately sharing"with any given person, so instead I've kind of withdrawn. I wasn’t going to post this, because I’m pretty sure you don’t want to read about this. Amusing and/or heartwarming stories about the children, yes. Even quizzes and reviews of television shows. But not a play-by-play of my own personal Crazy Games.

Sometimes, like most of today, I feel fine. Sometimes, I even feel really good. No matter how I feel, I feed the children, change diapers, turn on TV shows, run errands, even clean house (which was too much, last week.) Then without warning I hunker down in my own mind and feel like something is broken inside me, the way I rehearse conversations with health professionals and have to remind myself to stop obsessing. I’m faking it, getting by on the minimums, and I want to do better, feel better. Damnit, I deserve to feel better! I don’t know if I have faith that it will happen, but I remember being worse than this and it did get better, a lot better, so maybe I will get there again. I’m trying. I’m really trying.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Book Binge

I forgot to mention I'm participating in Mary P's May Book Binge. You can see the button over in the right sidebar, and if you want a list of the participants, go here.

At the end of the month, I'll list all the books I've read. It will be interesting to see how my list compares to last year's, since I read more blogs and fewer books now. At least it feels that way.

This is a good way to get some recommendations of what to read. Just in time for summer vacation!

Speaking of books, here's a review I wrote. (Better late than never, right?) It's of a truly awful book. If you like scathing reviews, go see what you think about what I said.

Friday, May 2, 2008

It appears that my husband was right, and for once I'm happy for him to be right (that was a joke--he's right a lot, so to save time I just go ahead and agree with him unless I KNOW he's wrong.) I had a good night's sleep last night and haven't been anxious yesterday or today. So that's really good. Thanks for the thoughts and prayers.

For something funny--I don't normally post email forwards, but this made me laugh when I needed it.


Six married men will be dropped on an island with one car and 3 kids each for six weeks.

Each kid will play two sports and either take music or dance classes.

There is no fast food.

Each man must take care of his 3 kids, keep his assigned house clean, correct all homework, and complete science projects, cook, do laundry, and pay a list of 'pretend' bills with not enough money.

In addition, each man will have to budget in money for groceries each week.

Each man must remember the birthdays of all their friends and relatives and send cards out on time.

Each man must also take each child to a doctor's appointment, a dentist appointment and a haircut appointment.

He must make one unscheduled and inconvenient visit per child to the Urgent Care center.

He must also make cookies or cupcakes for a social function.

Each man will be responsible for decorating his own assigned house, planting flowers outside, and keeping it presentable at all times.

The men will only have access to television when the kids are asleep and all chores are done.

The men must shave their legs, wear makeup daily, adorn themselves with jewelry, wear uncomfortable yet stylish shoes, keep their fingernails polished, and their eyebrows groomed.

During one of the six weeks, the men will have to endure severe abdominal cramps, back aches, and have extreme, unexplained mood swings, but not complain much or slow down from other duties. Men must also keep their bodies in super-hot-model shape and in good health at all times.

They must attend weekly school meetings, church, and find time at least once to spend the afternoon at the park or a similar setting.

They will need to read a book and then pray with the children each night and in the morning, feed them, dress them, brush their teeth, and comb their hair by 7:00 am.

A quiz will be given at the end of the six weeks, and each father will be required to know all of the following information: each child's birthday, height, weight, shoe size, clothes sizes, and doctor's name Also the child's weight at birth, length at birth, time of birth, and length of labor, each child's favorite color, middle name, favorite snack, favorite song, favorite drink, favorite toy, biggest fear, and what they want to be when they grow up.

The kids vote dads off the island based on performance. The last man on the island wins only if he still has enough energy to be intimate with his spouse at a moment's notice and at least twice a week.

If the last man does win, he can play the game over and over and over again for the next 18-25 years eventually earning the right to be called a good Mother!

P.S. Series willing contestants!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Hi, my name is Alison...

Some of you who haven't been reading since the beginning of this blog may not know that I have an illness.

It isn't lupus or Crohn's disease. It's not even asthma. It's a mental illness.

Just to type that phrase is scary to me, like you'll read that and think, "She's crazy! Run!"

(Yes, I am crazy, but that is not what I'm talking about here.)

I think we still have a hard time thinking of mental illness as an illness that needs to be treated. I know I do. For the past year and a half, I have been treated for anxiety and depression. I have taken my medication every day and been so, so thankful that it works. Because, you see, the mental anguish that clinical depression and anxiety brings is as awful as any physical pain I've ever had. Worse than childbirth, really, because I couldn't get an epidural for my brain. But since I've been better, I had kind of assumed that it would never come back.

The past few days have not been good for me. My major symptom is insomnia, and I've been waking up before 5 every morning, unable to go back to sleep. So I've been anxious that the worst is coming back, that all my gains have been lost, that I'll have to suffer again. All that anxiety doesn't make for a peaceful day or a sleep-filled night, so it's a vicious cycle.

I do have a plan in place. I have medication to help me calm down enough to sleep. If, as my husband thinks, this was triggered by hormones (which totally can happen), I should be better next week. If not, I'll need to consult with my doctor about changing my dosage to get me back to a good place.

It's just the waiting that's hard. I've been so happy the last 18 months, it's hard to have to fight something I thought was taken care of. However, as with any chronic illness, it can reoccur and thank goodness there are plenty of options for keeping it under control.