Tuesday, April 29, 2008
The crappiness was entirely in my head, because literally nothing had changed since the day before except that I found out that the body work to our car (due to the fender bender) will require the car to stay in the shop up to a week. A week without a car is not possible for me. Two or three days, yes. But since we can't walk anywhere, after a few days, I start to go crazy if I don't have a few errands or playdates to break up the day. Plus, I have to take Miss Pink to and from school three days a week. We can't get a rental car (the usual solution) since the guy who hit me paid for the damage instead of having us file on his insurance.
So. After I cried some unreasonable, self-pitying tears, I realized that we could wait until after school is out to put the car in the shop. That will solve about 90% of the problem; we can endure a few days at home, especially with friends free for the summer to visit.
It's not really a problem, more like a minor inconvenience. The bumper needs to be repainted, but that can wait until a better time. The problem is that it goes against my innate desire to want things taken care of NOW. As my husband says, "Patience, Mortimer."
(No, I do not have any idea what that means. I think his father used to say it to him.)
I'm just edgy and mopey and sleepy (sounds like a revised version of Snow White) since I woke up at 5:30 and couldn't go back to sleep. That's always fun. Anyway, I know things will seem better, or at least different, by this time tomorrow.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
If you are in a tough place right now, you might be annoyed by reading that I don't have any troubles right now. I know what that feels like. When we were in a difficult spot financially (which was most of the time for the first ten years of our marriage, not because we are irresponsible spenders, but because my husband owns his own business) I would hear about or observe others who seemed to have everything they wanted and to put it bluntly, I was jealous. Later, when I was attacked by depression and anxiety, I felt I was broken inside--what was wrong with me, that I just couldn't be happy like a normal person? For one thing, I was doing a lot of comparing myself with others. The problem with that is that you always compare your insides with others' outsides, and that's not a valid comparison. You don't know what's inside their heart, what struggles they may be going through, or what they have endured to get to the place they are today. By anyone's standards, I have "gotten off easy" so far in this journey of life. Yet I have had some challenges, and since I'm not dead yet (!), I know I'm going to have some more.
I'm not going to write much about our good fortune this week, because it makes me feel funny inside. (I guess I still make the mistake of equating good things happening to you with being a good person, and that makes me feel like I am bragging.) At one point, I told my husband about winning two times in an online giveaway, and he said, "Let's play the lottery. Our luck is good this week." No--I don't know how I feel about luck. I certainly don't think I DESERVE to be blessed--just living in North America makes me wealthier than the vast majority of the people on this earth. I did think of the Scripture which says, "Send out your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will get it back" (Ecclesiastes 11:1). That is what Justin and I have been doing, without seeing much results, for a long time. Call it God, call it karma: the good things you do without seeking a reward will return to you after a while.
There is a story about a certain type of bamboo which doesn't grow tall for nine years, yet in the tenth year it grows fifty feet. The question is: did it grow fifty feet in one year, or fifty feet in ten years? If at any time you had stopped watering and tending it, it would have died and never reached its potential. Yet in the tenth year you see how tall it can be, and you are glad you didn't give up.
Friday, April 25, 2008
(Potty, this is Mr. Blue. Mr. Blue, potty.)
Since you can't hear my tone of voice, I'm not incredibly enthusiastic about potty-training him. I want him to BE potty-trained; I just don't really want to go through the process.
It's just pre-potty-training, I told myself, being careful not to get emotionally worked up over whether the child will TRY, for Pete's sake just sit on the potty for two minutes and TRY (like I did with Miss Pink, and had to totally back up and punt because she dug her heels in and just wouldn't until she was darn well good and ready.)
I don't really think Mr. Blue is actually ready, because he doesn't mind wet or dirty diapers, and he doesn't seem to notice when he's gone. However, he may prove me wrong.
Yesterday he was intrigued by the potty, sitting on it with his clothes on, taking the little splash guard on and off. Then Daddy had him sit on it before his bath. I came in and said, "Mr. Blue, if you tee-tee in the potty, you can have a piece of candy," thinking, he has no idea how to make himself go, I'm just planting the idea in his mind--when he immediately peed. Granted, it went on the floor instead of the potty, but hey! Awesome for the first time. I gave him the candy after his bath. I expect a million gains and setbacks in the next few months, but it was a start. I couldn't get his sister to go in the potty, even accidentally, so that I could reward her.
Today Miss Pink was encouraging him to go on the potty while she went, I took his diaper off--and he peed on the floor again, this time on the blanket she sleeps with. You should have heard her freak-out. This is actually the second time he's peed on one of her blankets, so if he does it again, I'm going to call it sabotage and accept that he really does know how to pee on demand.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
I've never been featured on anything, so this was cool.
Also, they're having a Mother's Day quotation contest. The details are here. I'm trying to think if I've said something pithy and witty enough about motherhood to qualify. Probably not!
I've got a toddler screaming about wanting flip flops on and a preschooler waiting to be picked up. Must go...
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Those of us who aren't lucky enough to have grandparents at our beck and call (or rather, at our kids' beck and call) for babysitting every weekend need another way to have a semi-regular Date Night without having to fork over a huge wad of cash to a babysitter. Nothing against babysitters; we just can't afford one on a regular basis, especially with two kids. Yet we NEED to have some time together without the short and loud people! What should we do?
This is our solution. We have a few good friends whom we know really well, and we trade babysitting with them. Some are just infrequent "can you watch the kids while I go to the dentist" deals which are reciprocated whenever they need help. However, with one particular couple, we trade babysitting duties about once a month. It works particularly well with this family since our kids' ages match up well. The best part is that it's not a burden to babysit because the kids entertain each other. We order some pizza, solve a few squabbles over toys, and have a relaxing evening at home until our friends get back.
Now I will say that I would not do this unless I knew everyone in the home and was absolutely sure that my children would be safe there. So be wise and pay attention to your "mommy intuition" as you make plans with your friends.
That's what works for me. Check out some more good ideas here.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Last week I read this post, about Sarah Brown’s life’s regrets. She stipulated that she narrowed it down to the things that she hadn’t done, rather than any bad decisions she’d made, on the assumption that at the end of your life, you’ll regret all the opportunities you let pass you by rather than the things you did follow through on. She says, “If you ignore this rule, this game quickly deteriorates into My Life’s Bad Romantic Decisions, or Why Did I Ever Say/Do/Ingest That,” and who wants to read that? Besides, I think she’s right when she says that even the bad things that happened to you have contributed to the person you are today.
So my point is that this entry is not as depressing as it seems. It’s more of a taking stock, and reminding myself that it’s not too late to do some of these, and to take advantage of the things I haven’t been doing that I still can.
So without further ado, here are my regrets:
-not learning Spanish for real rather than just the colors and food items
--not keeping in touch with one of my best friends from high school
-not being involved at all in campus activities = very little fun in college
-being paralyzingly shy in unfamiliar situations as a teenager
-avoiding taking risks, since that might mean failure and rejection
-not writing more before I had kids (I can’t believe I thought I didn’t have time)
-taking so long to realize I needed help for my anxiety disorder
Here are some things I have never regretted:
Here are some things I have never regretted:
-all the extra sleep I've ever gotten
-eating good chocolate
-spending Alone Time with my husband (not just doing that, but…yeah)
-reading instead of watching TV
-making up after a fight
-snuggling with my babies
If you want to tell me about your regrets, I’d be interested to hear them. Try it, it really gives you perspective on what you should focus on today!
Sunday, April 20, 2008
1. I now know all the names of all kinds of trucks and heavy machinery, thanks to Mr. Blue’s interest in them. It’s so cute when he points out an “es-a-vator” (excavator) or “tontrete mixer” while we’re driving.
2. Kristy Lee Cook finally getting kicked off American Idol.
3. We went to prayer meeting at church on Monday night for the first time in months. I think that’s why the rest of the week seemed to go so much more smoothly. I didn’t really get that much done around the house, but I didn’t feel behind and irritated by being behind, because I’d started the week focusing on what’s really important to me. We will go back--it’s worth the effort.
1. The wreck. But it definitely could have been worse.
2. I was sore all over from kickboxing on Thursday after two weeks off. I hate exercise. The most exercise I really want to do is turning the pages of a book. Unfortunately, I don’t want to be bedridden when I get old, so I have to make myself move.
3. I was irritated at a friend with whom I’m never irritated. I won’t discuss my reasons here. (It’s none of you reading; I just want to keep it private.) I was going to confront her in a nice way and then I realized that this choice of hers was none of my business; it was between her and God. So I let it go. But being irritated was like picking at a scab—it itched, hurt, and felt good-in-a-bad way all at the same time.
4. Having to pee 5 times more frequently (and suddenly) than I did before I had kids. Can I get a witness, ladies?
Friday, April 18, 2008
Let me just start by saying: we are all fine. We were in a wreck and there was a ginormous hail/thunderstorm last night, but we’re fine.
Now the details. The wreck could have been much worse (and by that I mean that it could have been my fault.) A police officer had a speeder pulled over on the side of the three-lane highway that goes through my town and the driver of the car in front of me slammed on their brakes because OMG! A cop! I had to apply my brakes quickly too, avoiding hitting that car, but the guy behind me hit my car.
We pulled over and were exchanging information when the cop finished with the speeder and approached us. The cop was VERY young; he looked like he had shaved for the first time, oh, yesterday. “Well, I’m guessing y’all had an accident,” were his words. No, Officer, we just thought we’d exchange phone numbers on the side of the road on a very windy day because he’s so cute.
(He was cute, though, which I haven’t mentioned to my husband for obvious reasons. Looked like Orlando Bloom. Alas, he is 21 years old, has a girlfriend who was in his car, I’m married with 2 kids, and—oh yeah, HE HIT MY CAR.)
When we got home there was a message from
Miss Pink was pretty upset during the aftermath. “We had a wreck! Oh no! I can’t believe we had a wreck! Is our car broken, Mommy? MOMMY! WE HAD A WRECK!” Meanwhile, Mr. Blue was oblivious—sitting in his car seat chewing on his stuffed doggie’s face.
You all know what a drama queen she can be. But as a recovering drama queen myself, I can tell you that to her, the freak-out is entirely justified because it is the WORST THING IN THE WORLD EVER—to her. She just has huge emotions that her little heart doesn’t know how to handle. My job is to stay calm and help her calm down—not by making her shut up, but by showing her that everything’s fine, Mommy will take care of it, she doesn’t have to worry, etc. With her, because she’s so verbal, that means talking her down from the ledge, so to speak. I am so thankful that I am not in the same place I was in five or even three years ago, because I would have been crying right along with her. Now, I was like, “The most important thing is that nobody’s hurt. The second most important thing is that nobody’s hurt.” And I meant it.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
So here is a recipe I found in a magazine--I can't remember which one. But it met ALL my criteria for a recipe: it's easy, cooks in less than 30 minutes, with only 5 minutes prep, uses less than 5 ingredients, and is yummylicious. I sometimes cook things that don't follow these criteria, but not that often! This one is going on the regular rotation.
Without further ado--I give you Orange BBQ Drumsticks.
Preheat oven to 450. Line a rimmed pan with nonstick foil, or spray regular foil with cooking spray. Remove skin from 6-8 chicken drumsticks (the recipe said 8, the package I bought had 6; there was some sauce left over but not a lot).
Stir together 3/4 c. BBQ sauce, 1/4 c. orange marmalade, and 2 tsp. chili powder. Reserve 1/4 c. of sauce and dip the drumsticks in the rest to coat. Bake 25 minutes. Drizzle remaining sauce over drumsticks.
I served these with a pasta salad, but potato salad would be good too, for a picnic-y feel. Enjoy!
Updated: Oops, I forgot to say that for more tips and tricks, go here.
And a happy tax day to you! Doesn’t it make you feel all warm inside to think of all that money being drained out of your bank account (or being withheld from your paycheck) into the vast coffers of the U.S. Treasury? Yeah, I thought so. It’s enough to make me want to go back to the pioneer days, when there was no income tax. Sure, nobody built roads for you or—what else does our government do that actually benefits us? I forget.But since this is not a political blog, I’ll just stop right there and go on, in my erratic way, to Something Completely Different*. I got the swimsuit I’ve been dreading shopping for, and it’s not that bad. You can see it here, but if you think that when you click on that link, you’re going to see a picture of me modeling it for you, you’re sadly mistaken, my friend.
It looks okay on me, which is the best a 30-something mom like me can hope for. It holds everything in and isn’t too revealing, which is saying something since I bought it from
Anyway, I'm a little discouraged that with all the exercise I get (1 hour a day, 3-5 times a week), my body has changed very little. I don't have a problem with my size, but when I started, I expected that if I worked out that often, I'd look like the cover of Shape magazine. Apparently I love food too much to lose weight unless I starve myself, and that's not gonna happen. At least I don't actually need to lose weight (please don't throw things) and my body is healthy and reasonably strong. Plus I'm addicted to the exercise now--or is it just that I'm addicted to spending an hour kid-free, listening to my iPod and reading celebrity gossip? Take a guess!
*If you got the Monty Python reference, I love you.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
1. On Saturday Miss Pink was officially registered at the charter school. Several of her friends also got in (it was inevitable, really, since she makes friends everywhere she goes.) Her comments after the screening she had with a K teacher: “It was fun! School is going to be so much fun when I am in kindergarten. And I had no IDEA that place [the classroom] would be so AMAZING!”
Rock on, girl. YOU are amazing.
2. Chicken shawarma with fresh pita bread and rice alongside. It’s a Middle Eastern dish of marinated chicken. I get cucumber sauce instead of tahini, and…mmmm. I’m glad there was enough for leftovers.
3. I watched a movie Sat. night—Dan in Real Life. I laughed AND cried (not at the same time), and I hardly ever cry at movies. Steve Carrell did a good job acting normal although I kept expecting him to start acting like Michael Scott. And I liked that everything in the movie could have happened in real life (so the title was accurate). Except for the whole family doing aerobics on the front lawn. That would never happen in any family I have ever known.
4. Mr. Blue has been quite the mama’s boy this week. He sits on my lap for a long time and gets so still that I think he’s gone to sleep, but he’s just cuddling. I asked him today if he was Mama’s boy and he said, “Yep.”
5. I had an excellent Sunday afternoon nap because I was so tired from staying up to watch the movie. I hope I can sleep tonight—I hate that vicious cycle.
6. Another good thing—this has been a good week! We got a refund from our mortgage company for an escrow surplus and now we can afford to buy the kids a trampoline (with a safety net, of course) without dipping into our savings.
1. I temporarily lost my mind last night while we were at the mall and went into Forever 21. Who was I kidding? I think that store ought to be named “Hideously Unflattering to Everyone Over 21.” Also, someone should tell the “designers” that the 80’s were a BAD time for fashion. They are dressing these poor children in horrible clothes that will give them nightmares in 15 years. (Exhibit A: the female singers on American Idol.)
2. Justin had to work Saturday. It doesn’t happen often, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.
3. Mr. Blue has gotten obsessed with gum. He started getting it at Miss P’s school in the “treasure chest” at the end of the day. He’s finally stopped swallowing it, which is good, but I limit him to 1 or 2 pieces of sugarless gum a day. He, of course, doesn’t think this is nearly enough, which means I am treated to ear-piercing wails of “DUMMMMMM!” several times a day.
Friday, April 11, 2008
Yesterday Miss Pink was singing in the car, to the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell”:
The cows give us milk, the cows give us milk
Hi ho the derry-o, the cows give us milk
She went on to sing about chickens giving us eggs, then a thought came to her: “Mom, what do pigs give us?”
I said, “Bacon.” Then immediately wondered if I would have to explain exactly how that happens. It’s not like the pig just donates the bacon and goes on its merry way.
She then said without skipping a beat, “Oh! Then I guess I need to sing the cows give us beef, too.”
She ate her chopped steak with gravy at dinner without any complaints.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Before I tell you my dilemma, I feel compelled to give some background information.
I am not naturally the world’s most generous person. Gah. I hate saying that. It makes me feel like a Scrooge, a horrible person hunched over her little pile of stuff, refusing to share. But it’s true that spontaneous giving is not my strong suit. A couple of years ago, our small group members took a quiz to determine our spiritual gifts, and “Giver” was one of my lowest scores. (“Administrator” was low too. Apparently I am not very organized. Who knew!)
I was the type of child who, when she likes something she’s eating, eats it as fast as she can so she can have seconds. And worries the whole time that someone else will eat it all first.
I have made progress in this area. I give generously to my church, and feel good about it. I donate a LOT of nice things to charities instead of trying to sell them (not that there’s anything wrong with garage sales or eBay, but donating is better for me because of my “problem” and also because I’m not very organized, remember, and it’s easier to just get it out of the house.) I give to other charities when I can, and I look forward to being able to afford more. I will keep my friends’ kids for free, and I’ll cook for you any day without wanting anything in return.
But there is one thing I want to keep to myself—I just don’t want to share it. And when my child asks for it, I feel selfish, but I still want to say no, THAT’S MINE.
I have a small stash of scrapbooking supplies, and whenever I scrap, I get the box out and look through it to see what I might want to use. If Miss Pink is anywhere around, she looks at what I have and starts getting the “wants.” And I have to fight the urge to say, “Go away and stop trying to take my stuff!”
It makes me feel terrible. I’m a mother, and what do mothers do? We give to our children; sometimes the giving feels unending. I’ve given up a lot for my kids: a potential academic career; my body for a couple of years at a time; months worth of sleep; vacations and jewelry that I could afford if I were childless; time to write more; chocolate that was headed for my mouth when they asked for it. I don’t regret any of this. I do wish I had the ability to withhold something so simple without feeling guilty about it.
The more I say “No, you can’t have that unopened package of stickers that cost $3.99”—scrapbooking supplies are expensive, y’all—the more Miss P hangs around and whines, “I wish I could have that” and then I snap, “Well, you can’t” and she says, “I just said I wish” with these pitiful eyes and I think, God, Alison, look how stingy you are with your own child!
(She does that “I wish” thing a lot lately about anything she knows I can’t or won’t let her do and it drives me CRAZY.)
The truth is, I do let her have things—I give her pieces of paper and stickers I’m not going to use, so she probably thinks there’s no harm in asking for the good stuff. Truly the issue is not her acquisitiveness—it seems normal for a girl her age—but my reaction to it. Why do I feel guilty when I believe we shouldn’t have to share absolutely everything (I don’t make her and her brother share their most special loveys, for example)?
When I gave birth to her, I found out what it was to become a mother. To give myself over to doing nothing but caring for such a needy, demanding little person. And then to do it all over again with another baby. “Mama” has become my identity to the point where the spaces in which I can exercise my own creativity and selfhood have become little islands where I perch and “do my own thing” for an hour here or there. (I’ve never thought about it before—I just realized that it’s ironic that I want to be away from my kids to write or scrapbook…about my kids. I might want to do something about that.)
Anyway, I will probably keep doing what I have been doing, which is to explain that I don’t give away my new stuff until I see if I need it or not. I hope that by writing about it, I may be able to explain it more patiently instead of ripping it out of her hands and saying, “Just STOP digging through my stuff!” And of course, when I get to go to a scrapbooking day at my church, I just savor the time to use the underworked right side of my brain without anyone pushing my guilt button.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
I’m participating in Works for Me Wednesday again, after having no ideas or forgetting to post for a LONG time. I have gotten some great ideas from the other bloggers, though. If you want to get some good tips, go here.
Recently I started carrying around a little notebook in my purse. Big deal, right? Well, I find it has helped me a LOT. Here’s what I use it for:
1) I use a page for each family member, with their name at the top and clothing sizes listed. Then I’ve listed what clothing or personal items each person (including me!) needs that I would not be able to get on my weekly grocery store trip. Before this, I was always forgetting to buy certain items and that meant we might have to do without. Or alternatively, I would buy a cute dress for Miss Pink, forgetting that she has 63 church dresses already and what she really needs is a pair of jeans. Just writing them down and checking the list has already helped me when I’m at Target or a kids’ resale shop.
2) I make a note when I have an idea for something I want to write or scrapbook. For me, just writing things down is a huge memory booster—plus if I do forget, it’s in my notebook where I can look it up.
3) I can write down phone numbers of Miss Pink’s classmates when we want to schedule a play date for the kids.
4) I write down songs I want to download from iTunes.
5) I’ve used it for a grocery list when needed.
6) Directions. I’m directionally challenged and this way I can find the place the next time without asking again.
Basically, I write down anything I want to remember when I’m away from home. It’s so much better not to try to keep up with all those scraps of paper! And that’s what works for me.
Monday, April 7, 2008
· Number of days old I am right now:11, 960
· The age I was when I first walked: 11 months
· The age I was in my earliest memory: definitely before I was two because I was in my crib
· The age I was when I was first kissed: 13
· The age I was when I moved out of my parents’ house: 20
· The age I was when I finally felt like an adult: 28
· The age I dreamed of getting married at: 25
· The age I actually got married at: one month shy of 22
· The age I’d go back to if I could: If I could take what I’ve learned since, 25
· The price of my first car: I have no idea
· The price of my first home: around 72,000
· Number of vehicles I’ve owned in my lifetime: 4
· How much I made hourly at my first job: I don’t know, but it was definitely minimum wage
· Number of stitches I’ve had in my life: zero!
· Number of bones I’ve broken: 1—a hairline fracture (get it?) in my right arm
· Number of countries I’ve visited: 1
· Number of places I’ve lived: If “places” means “cities,” then 4
· Number of pets I’ve owned: 1
· Number of ex-boyfriends in my past: I’m only coming up with 5, but it feels like I’m forgetting someone.
· Number of people I’ve called my “best friend”: 3
Sunday, April 6, 2008
1. The kids wearing their superhero costumes all week. It was so cute. Also, they are playing together well (most of the time).
3. I love this about my husband: he watched most of Pride and Prejudice when it was on the other night—and I wasn’t even in the room!
4. This month’s Challenging Book isn’t really challenging—I chose a Dickens novel since I’ve only read A Christmas Carol (of course), Oliver Twist and Great Expectations—and I may have read those last two in a version abridged for kids, I’m not sure. I chose Nicholas Nickleby and am loving it. Dickens was so funny—his humor still works. He was a master of pacing as well—even though the book is massive, you move through it quickly.
5. Moms’ Night Out last night with friends—dinner at a Mexican restaurant and dessert at one girl’s house. We laughed so much my sides hurt. Plus one of my friends did an actual belly dance for us.Not Liking
1. I went to Chick-Fil-A Tuesday specifically to get the new Coffee Caramel shake because I had a coupon for a free one. Never mind that it’s probably seven thousand calories—it was FREE and I couldn’t pass that up. It turned out that they were only free between 2-5 pm, so I couldn’t justify buying one. Sadly, I ate an ice-cream cone instead.
2. Mr. Blue climbed onto his dresser and my bathroom countertop this week. This means I have to be extra vigilant, so he won’t a) fall and break his head; or b) do what he did the other night—spray himself with a bunch of different colognes so he smells like he was attacked by the fragrance section of a department store. Gag.
3. I am having a hard time finding a swimsuit I like that a) does not make me hate my white, stumpy-legged, flabby body and b) does not cost a bajillion dollars. Stupid stupid stupid.
4. I’ve been in a crabby, slothful mood this week. I’ll give you three guesses why. Thank goodness this week should be better.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
This morning I woke up feeling like crap. Not sick—just more tired than when I went to bed.
All night I dreamed the same kind of dreams: dreams in which I had something trivial to accomplish, but never could make things work, and I would panic. All stupid dreams. One of them featured the Karate Kid and I was trying to remember the plots of the movies; that should tell you how dumb the dreams were.
I woke up achy and longing for nothing more than to crawl back under the covers and go back to sleep. If I had a real job I would have taken a mental health day. Instead I got Miss Pink to school and skipped kickboxing.
Because there was no way I was going to be the Karate Mom this morning.
Instead, I popped in a sing-along songs video for Mr. Blue and dozed on the couch in between demands for a new drink, or a book to be read.
Anyway, I finally felt human enough to get ready for playgroup. The hostess had made ceviche, which I’d heard of but never had before, and…oh, it was delicious. Apparently it has restorative powers, because although I still don’t feel like cleaning or cooking anything, I am sitting upright and able to form semi-coherent sentences.
Although now that Mr. Blue is asleep, I am considering taking a nap instead of showering. Let’s see: clean hair or sleep?
It’s not a hard choice, really.