Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bark Bark

I have sick kids. I have three sick kids to be exact. I haven't slept for a couple nights. I've been packing like crazy, calling realtors, getting hung up on daily by AllKids (state insurance). Sports season has started which means freezing my butt off at hockey, softball and baseball practices pretty much every night. But you know what? I'M the one comforting my kids when they're sick. I'M the one taking care of their needs. I'M the one providing for them. I'm the one cheering them on and taking pictures at their practices. ME. And I'm so thankful for that! I cannot even imagine choosing to miss out on all this. Or showing up a couple times a year like a distant uncle to just say "hi". I wouldn't trade it for anything. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Two nights ago, as I was working on a blog post, I heard seals barking back in the girls’ bedroom.  This was concerning to me because I don’t generally keep seals in the girls’ bedroom, or you know, any room in my house.  A couple minutes later, Lexi came shuffling out of her room, and in between her seal-bark coughs, she cried that she couldn’t breathe.  I calmly led her into the bathroom, put a pillow on the floor for her to lie on, and turned on the shower as hot as it would go.  She lay in the steam while I grabbed her some Motrin, and wondered how I got so calm about these things. 

I mean the first time one of my kids awoke in the middle of the night with that tell-tale croupy cough, I freaked out and called the pediatrician’s answering service.  When the doctor called me back, his groggy, sleep-laced voice gave me the advice to put him in the bathroom with steam and/or take him outside to breathe in the cool night air.  Then he told me I was an idiot new mother and he immediately fell asleep before he actually hung up.  I kept the phone off the hook and listened to him snore for a while because I was certain I was going to need to talk to him again when my child stopped breathing and I figured it would be easier to scream into the phone to awaken him as opposed to calling the answering service all over again. 
But now that I have more kidsam more experienced, am sane, I know that as scary as that barky sounding cough is, croup is no big deal.  Until it spreads to another kid.  And another kid.  And another one.  Germs: the one thing my six kids share.  Then it’s the broken record that just keeps repeating.

“I need more Motrin.”

“Can I go in the shower again?”

“I want a cool washcloth because my eyes burn!”

“My nose is stuffy.”

“Can I have some chicken soup?”

“I want Jello.”

“No, not green Jello; red Jello.”

“No, I changed my mind.  I want pudding.”

“My lips are try.”

“My throat hurts.”

“Sorry, I just sneezed on your computer, Mom.”

I’d love to finish this story, but Lexi and Brooklyn just got up, crying to me that they can’t stop coughing.  I imagine this virus will have made the rounds through all six kids and me by sometime in June, at which point, strep throat will take over.  It’s the way it works in big families.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Eating Salad

"Hey Brooklyn, do you want some more sala...what the heck??? What are you putting in your mouth?"

"I'm eating my salad, Mom."

"Where's your fork?"

"It's right here, Mom," Brooklyn answered, pointing to her unused fork sitting next to her plate.

"Ummm, what are you using to eat with," I asked, a little scared to hear her answer.

"I'm using my mermaids!" she happily announced.

"I see," I said, shaking my head. "Makes perfect sense to me."



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To read my Babble post on the new Abercrombie push-up bathing suit for little girls, click here!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Going on an Adventure


I love my home that sits in a nice, quiet suburb. And I love being only a few minutes from a major city. In my opinion, it's the best of both worlds! I enjoy going downtown for the museums, the culture, the wonderful restaurants, and the weird sights!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday Sound Out

From Chicago where it snows over spring break, it's your host, the woman who likes her eggs salmonella-free, Dawn Damalas Meehan! And now, here are the answers to this week's questions.

Have you thought to ask the older kids to get jobs to help support the family? In times past, that's what kids did.
I've already put all six of them to work in a sweat shop.

Please tell me that you put up your smoke dectetor. :) My firewife inside of me is cringing when I think about it.
You have a firewife inside of you? I have a woman who likes to eat cookies inside of me. I wish I could get her out. And of course I put the smoke detector back! That's why I wrote the post reminding everyone to change their batteries.

I wanted to ask you about your children. I have three and one is in a stage where he is so stubborn! Not sure if you have/had one like that? My son is 4 will be 5 in June. He wants everything to go his way and if he doesn't get his way he does nothing. Older brother was not like this. Also if he does not get his own way then he tells me I hate him and don't love him. Sorry this probably is not blog material but I think you are an awesome person and wanted to see if you had gone through anything like this. Thanks for any advice!
If being a mom of six children has taught me one thing, it's that all kids are different! What works for one will not necessarily work for another. Austin was a stubborn child who is much more laid back now. Brooklyn is my stubborn one now. My best advice (which I admit is easy in theory, but much harder to put into practice in real life), is to say what you mean and mean what you say, be consistent, and keep emotion out of it.

Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say - When your child is lying on the floor of the toy store, crying for a toy, don't say something like, "If you don't get up, I'm never taking you out in public again!" It will obviously be impossible to stick to that threat. I know; I've tried. Instead, say something like, "I hope, one day, you have a child who acts just like you!"

Be Consistent - If you give in to your child and buy them that toy, then you should expect another all-out tantrum the next time you go to the store and tell them no. All bets are off when it's your sixth child and you no longer care about consistency; you only care about quiet.

Keep Emotion out of It. You're the adult. When your child screams, "I hate you!", or "You hate me!" when you don't give in to their demands, they're trying to get a reaction from you. If you scream back how ungrateful they are and how you don't have money for the toy and how you would never have been that disrespectful to your parents when you were that age, blah, blah, blah, what message are you sending them? If instead, you say calmly, "I'm sorry you feel that way", while removing them (kicking and screaming, if need be) from the store, you're sending the message that their tantrums aren't going to move you to give in. You're the adult and you're in charge. What you say goes and if they don't like it, well, sucks to be you.

Be loving and consistent and they'll get past this stage, I promise. They might always be strong-willed, but as long as they learn how to handle it when they don't get their way, they'll be fine. If not, they'll be that guy who gets mad and staples his boss to the bulletin board by his necktie.

Omg, that was you [who posted the Pokemon auction on eBay]?? I used to hang out on the Ebay discussion boards and I remember that auction being posted and watched. I didn't know what a blog was back then. Once I started reading blogs and found yours I just kept reading because I thought you were funny. I had no idea until just now that you were the Pokemon lady!
Yes!!! When I was a little girl, I dreamed of being known as the Pokemon Lady!

Are all those kids yours?
Yep and I have seven more at home.

Your ex was/is really a piece of work!
He is a piece of work, but he was a decent dad (a lousy husband, but a good dad). I think that makes it so much worse on my kids. He did a 180 degree change when we got divorced.

Question for you Dawn :) If you get paid per impression over at Babble does that me if I read it on one computer, then comment from another computer and then update the comments for yet another one each of those would count as a separate impression?? We have 5 computers here at home, and 4 at my office....lol
LOL! I'm not sure, but I think it would count on all five computers.

I'm headed back to Chicago soon with the almost 4 & 6yo kids...any must-sees downtown at the moment?
The Field Museum, The Museum of Science and Industry, Adler Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium, Navy Pier, Buckingham Fountain, Sears Tower, and Millennium Park are staples. I'm pretty sure the first four all offer free days where you can visit for no charge. If you want to visit a bunch of those places, a good way to see the sights is by getting a CityPass.

The winner of the Suave giveaway is -
Blogger Kim said...

I have no idea what my favorite is. It's usually whatever is in the shower that still has enough shampoo in it. Not one of the bottles that have been dumped and refilled with with cold water. Definitely not the bottle that's a combination created by son of all liquid found in the shower, including the dog shampoo.
Life as a single mom is a rat race, so I use whatever I find available at the moment. :)

Congratulations! Email me at dawn@dawnmeehan.com with your shipping address.

Thank you to all of you who have placed your ads on my blog! Please check out these great companies advertising on the right side bar of my blog! Thank you!




Friday, March 25, 2011

Court Stinks

I had to go to court yesterday. It was a mess. My ex-husband was trying to get his child support obligation modified (read - instead of getting a job and paying it, he was hoping to have the amount lowered). I already have a court date set up for the end of April to prove he's in contempt of court on multiple issues. A couple days ago, he dropped off papers stating he had a court date for Thursday. Thanks for the notice, buddy. I tried calling my lawyer many times, but he never returned any of my phone calls. So, I went to court.

I got there half an hour early, went into the court room and had a seat. From 10:30 until after 12:00, I sat there, waiting for my turn. My ex wasn't there. When I was one of the last ones left in the room, the judge called me up. I showed her the papers that my ex had given me and she said that I must have just missed him because he checked in earlier and the case was dismissed. I'm not sure why, but I think it was because he couldn't file a request while I already had a court date set up. I'm really not sure about this. All I know is that I wasted four and a half hours going downtown when I could've been having fun with my kids on their spring break. Ticked me off! And I don't know who I'm more mad at - my ex for wasting my time or my lawyer for not returning my calls about this.

I usually blog about something that has happened during the day that I find amusing. (I amuse easily.) I’ll get a general idea that I think is funny like the kids’ inability to change a roll of toilet paper, or how a five-year-old is incapable of just walking without hopping, skipping, or galloping down an aisle. Then I’ll sit down and just write about it.


Occasionally, however, I’ll take notes so I don’t forget what I want to write about. I don’t really like the note method though because I have horrible handwriting when it comes to taking notes. I have beautiful penmanship if I’m trying to write nicely, but when I scribble out a note it looks like something a blind monkey with a crayon drew. Wait, monkeys have opposable thumbs. My notes look more like something a platypus with a ADD could have drawn. Anyway, you get the picture. When I take notes, I have a hard time deciphering them later, and they don’t usually make much sense.

I had to go to court yesterday. But, for some reason, I took notes while sitting on the L, heading downtown. As far as I can tell, this is what the notes say. . .

The L is empty, but it still smells like pee. Is that a perpetual thing? How have I never noticed that before? And even more importantly, why did this woman sit next to me when the whole car is empty? Does she not have any clue about personal space? Is this the seat she sits in every day, no matter what? Maybe she just likes me. Or maybe she knows the train will fill up with weirdos so she figures if she sits next to me (a totally normal looking person HA!) she’ll avoid having to sit next to an ax murderer later. Or maybe I remind her of her estranged daughter. Maybe they got in a fight twelve years ago because the woman didn’t like her daughter’s fiancĂ©. And the fiancĂ© stole all her daughter’s money and left the country and then she followed him to Greece, but her daughter never knew she went to those lengths for her and she was too proud to tell her daughter and. . . Hmmm, do normal people make up stories about everyone they see?

I wish I could put tickets on the cars that parked over the lines in the parking garage. How stupid, selfish, and oblivious do you have to be to not notice that you’ve taken up enough space for two cars, a bus, a herd of water buffalo, and a pair of Kim Kardashian’s jeans. I don’t even know who Kim Kardashian is, let alone what her butt looks like. I’ve just heard. Whoever she is, I’m sure my butt is at least fifteen times the size of hers. Am I the only one in America who has no clue who this is? Why do I even care? Oh my gosh, the lady next to me is singing. Or chanting. How weird. I hope she’s not reading over my shoulder. Maybe if I write that I’m planning on pushing her off the train at the next stop, she’ll move. Nope, she didn’t move. Either she’s not looking over my shoulder or she just can’t read my writing.

I think the guy across the aisle has the hots for me. Surely he’s looking at me and not the lady singing/chanting next to me. Why IS she chanting? Darn, I wish I had my earbuds with me. He’s looking over here again. I probably have something on my face. Ohmygosh, did I put makeup on?! Why do women (or is it just me) freak out if they think they may have accidentally left the house without makeup? What would I do if I’d actually forgotten? I have a Sharpie in my purse. I could totally use that for eyeliner.
I have mixed feelings about all the graffiti on the walls. It’s kinda cool looking, but I wouldn’t like it if some punks came along and wrote on my house. Why are things always written in bubble letters? Is that a graffiti law?

Hmmm, the guy that just got on has a man bag. I wonder if he’ll get the part. Or a date with a man? “Joey comes with a bag!” I think I might watch too much Friends. Nah.

Oooo, my stop is next!

And this, my friends, is why I don’t generally use any notes that I take.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Jelly Beans, Mammoths, and Snow, Oh My!

It's spring break here and as much as I've wanted to do fun things with my kids, I just don't have the money to spend on entertainment. Instead, we've gone to the library for movies, we've used gift cards to eat out at Sonic, and of course, there have been the family room camp-outs.

But yesterday, we did one of our favorite free things; we took a trip to the Jelly Belly factory in Pleasant Prairie, WI, which is about an hour from Chicago.

The Jelly Belly factory offers a free tour that shows you how Jelly Belly beans, taffy, and other candies are made. Guests ride on little trains around the warehouse while watching interesting videos about the famous beans.

And the best part? Everyone gets a sample bag of Jelly Belly jelly beans and a snazzy little hat to wear while on the tour. (No, there’s no way on earth I’ll share the picture of me in the hat.)


Jelly Belly makes some dis-gust-ing jelly beans! You know how Jelly Bellies are so true-to-life? Cherry tastes like cherry, pina colada tastes like pina colada, peach bellini tastes like a bellini. Well, the same is true with pencil shavings, rotten egg, and canned dog food flavored beans. These flavors, I’m convinced, were made for teenage boys who like to do stupid things to impress other teenage boys.  Case in point. . .

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This is Jackson after popping a Canned Dog Food flavored Jelly Belly in his mouth.
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This was Jackson as the flavor hit him.  The next picture was just a blur as he made a beeline for the garbage can.
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Yeah, that was fun.

After we sampled a couple thousand candies, we made our way to tropical Kenosha. Kenosha has a couple free museums right on the lakefront. The Kenosha Public Museum and the Civil War Museum are small, but fun. The kids love the Public Museum which houses a Woolly Mammoth fossil and a great hands-on room where kids can explore, do different learning activities, play, and run around like crazy in an attempt to get kicked out (that last one is optional).
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“Hey, Mom! That looks like you in the morning hee hee hoo hoo ha ha ha!”

I looked at my little funnyman, Clay, then turned to Austin. ”Feed him to the prehistoric fish,” I instructed.
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So he did.

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Savannah was attacked by a dinosaur, Clayton found a Beavecoon, and Brooklyn almost climbed into a Mammoth carcass. We likely won’t be back there for a while. It’s probably best to wait until the wanted posters with our pictures have been taken down.

After the museums, we usually like to walk around the lake and take a ride on Kenosha’s street cars which only cost a quarter for kids and fifty cents for adults. However, since it’s spring break in Chicagoland, we didn’t get to do those fun summer-like activities. Nope, we got snow instead. And walking around a lake in thirty degree weather with snow and sleet is not fun, so we loaded up and headed home (after I did my traditional ‘getting lost’ detour, that is).
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You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have fun.  Go online and search your area for free activities you can do with your kids.  Then go get yourselves kicked out of some museums have yourselves some fun!

Circle of Moms Contest

There are a couple more days for you to vote for your favorite funny moms on Circle of Moms. I'd love to be number one! (It's my inner Monica that feels the need to win.)
If you have a minute, click here and vote for me, please!
Thank you!!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Suave Giveaway!


If you've read my blog for any amount of time, then you know that I love Suave hair care! Suave has recently come out with a new, redesigned professional line of products and I've got some new favorites!

The first one is Suave's Dry Shampoo. Oh yeah! I don't know a single mom who couldn't use this! Be honest, how many times has it happened that you woke up late, or it took longer than expected to get the kids ready, or you just ran out of time to get in the shower? Or maybe you have time for a quickly shower to wash your body, but definitely don't have time to wash and style your hair? It happens to me more often than I'd care to admit. Suave's Dry Shampoo is perfect for this very situation. Just spray a little in your hair and fluff! Voila! You're ready to go and your hair looks (AND SMELLS) awesome! It will totally save your hair on those mornings when your kids don't want those waffles, or those socks, or that shirt and you suddenly find yourself with ten minutes to get ready because everyone took five times as long as usual to eat breakfast and get dressed!


The other new product I especially love is the Leave In conditioner. I have crazy curly frizzy hair unless I spend a million hours straightening it. I use Suave's Sleek Anti-Frizz Cream every single day. And now, I use this leave in conditioner as well. It helps tame my curly hair so it's not so "Diana Ross circa 1968".

Would you like to win an assortment of several new Suave Professionals products? Let me know what your favorite hair care product is and why. Leave me a comment here with your email address and let me know. I'll choose a random winner on Saturday, March 26. Contest open to U.S. residents. Good luck!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Camping (or Something Like That)


"You know what makes me sad about you and dad being divorced, Mom?"

I braced myself for the answer because there are just so many reason for my kids to be sad, especially since their father quit being a parent and pushed the kids out of his life when we got divorced.

"What's that, sweetie?" I asked.

"I miss camping," was the answer that was echoed by all the siblings. "Would you take us camping sometime, Mom?"

"I love you guys and would do anything I possibly could for you, but camping? Couldn't I do something else for you guys instead? Something like poking myself in the eye with a stick or throwing myself down the stairs?"


“Moooom!”

“What?  I’m just trying to think of something a little less painful than camping.”

“Moooom!  Stop teasing!  Can we go camping, please?”

“Teasing?  Oh.  Um, oh yeah.  I was just teasing, heh heh.” I stammered.

Now, just to give you a little background, I hate camping.  I mean, I really, really hate camping.  For the life of me, I cannot think of a single reason why anyone would willingly choose to camp when there are perfectly good homes and hotels and bed & breakfasts and motels and even vans down by the river.  Camping is sleeping outside where there is no temperature control.  And you know what else sleeps outside?  Animals, that’s what!  Wild animals!  I don’t invite squirrels into my house to sleep with me; why on earth would I invite myself to sleep in their habitat?  And cooking?  There’s a reason why we don’t cook like the pioneers anymore!  Because they invented Chinese take-out!

So, I did what any other loving mother would do.  I gave the kids that famous non-answer answer.  ”Maybe.”  Maybe is my most favorite parenting word.  It’s not saying no and breaking their little hearts (although, don’t get me wrong, I have no problem saying no to the vast majority of their requests), and it’s not committing to anything.  Of course, maybe isn’t the end of the conversation; it only stalls the inevitable end for a bit because kids will always, always remember your maybes.  They may forget for a day or two.  They may even forget for weeks or months.  But one day, when you least expect it, they’ll bring it up again.  ”Hey Mom, remember when you said we could maybe go camping?”

“No.  I have no idea what you’re talking about,” you’ll answer.

“Yeah, we asked you if we could go camping seven years ago and you said maybe.  So can we go now?”

I knew my maybe would hold them off for a while, but dreading the unavoidable moment they’d bring it up again, I decided to circumvent their questions and offer a compromise.


Have fun camping, kids.  I’m just gonna take a bath, microwave a cup of tea, and go watch a movie while lying in my nice, comfy bed.  I guess camping isn’t so bad after all.

Thanks for Giving me Something to Write About?

Because the economy sucks and the housing market sucks and life sucks, I'm not going to be able to sell my house since I owe more than what it will sell for. Not to mention the fact that houses are on the market for a good year or more around here. My options are limited now and it just sucks.

While cleaning out and decluttering, I found a box of Joe's stuff (high school yearbooks, photo albums of his baby pictures, etc.) According to the divorce agreement, everything left here is mine. He took what was his and made no accommodations to retrieve anything else. I considering having a bonfire, and burning him in effigy. I also thought about writing up stories with all the details of his horribleness and listing the items on eBay. In the end, I opted to text him and let him know I had a box of his stuff if he wanted to come pick it up. That was my good deed for the year.

He stopped by on Saturday, handed me some papers because he's apparently taking me to court, trying to get his obligation to pay child support modified instead of being responsible, getting a job and paying more than $0 a month to help support his six children. Then, he took his box of stuff, yelled at me for throwing out one of the kids' broken old toys that he suddenly wanted to give his niece, and left without a word to the kids. He didn't say a single word to any of them. He didn't ask to see any of them. Nothing. Later, he texted me that it just never occurred to him to say hi.

What kind of parent does this?! What kind of parent goes months (years, in some cases) without seeing the kids and then doesn't even bother to say hello? I'm just floored by his selfishness. I can't fathom any parent acting like this. I just can't wrap my brain around such behavior.

Then today, he texts and out of nowhere, asks me if I can drop the kids off to see him later this week. Well, we already have plans then, and honestly, Brooklyn is the only one willing to see him now. Lexi and Brooklyn have been the only ones who don't hate him, but after leaving without a word to Lexi, he just alienated her. The rest of the kids have had enough of his behavior. They see how he's left them. They're not stupid. They're done with him. It's only a matter of time until Brooklyn sees through his bs, as well. There's no more of me making excuses for him and trying to convince the kids that he loves them. I don't talk about what a deadbeat he is, but no longer do I try to cover up what he's doing to them. He's made his choices and has pushed the kids as far away as he can. Only time will tell if they'll ever have any kind of relationship at all.

When I told him that I didn't think we'd be around for me to drop the kids off and that Brooklyn was the only one who would even want to go, he blamed it on me. He said that "my opinions of him made it difficult for him to focus on the kids". Oh sure, because I think he's a deadbeat loser, he can't focus on the kids. The fact that the reason I think he's a deadbeat loser is BECAUSE he abandoned the kids, doesn't matter in his little world. Of course, he's always blamed everything on me. It was my fault he got his third DUI this summer because if I hadn't divorced him, he wouldn't have had to go out drinking. It was my fault he spent thousands of dollars a month at strip clubs because I drove him to do it. It's my fault he lied to me constantly for 20 years.

So now I'm considering my limited options as far as my house is concerned while trying to ignore the insanity that is my ex-husband. And, of course, most importantly, trusting God to get us through this, and showing my kids every day just how much they're loved. Most days, I get up and keep on going, without any problems. I know that even the most stressful, hopeless-seeming situations are only a drop in the bucket. While in their midst, it's easy to get discouraged and give up hope. It's easy to be overcome with fear. But I know, in the end, one day, when the tough times have passed, I'll look back and see that it was just that - a small section of my life that had tough times. Nothing more.

Of course, other days, I want to lie in bed and cry. Thankfully, those days are few and far between!

When I first got a copy of the book, Pearl Girls (it's a great book compiled by Margaret McSweeney, filled with essays by some of the most awesome Christian women writers AND with all proceeds going to charity), I read through the stories. Many of them brought me to tears. I thought, Wow, these women have really been through some trials in their lives! Then I got to my silly essay and I thought, Nothing bad has ever happened to me. I admit I was a little sad that I had nothing profound to write because nothing bad had happened. Now, I'm pleased to know that I'll have a great story of triumph because I am going through some really rough times now. Okay, no I'm not. I'm not pleased at all. I'm kicking my butt because, clearly, I jinxed myself by saying that nothing bad had ever happened to me! What the heck was I thinking?!!! In the future, if I ever get the notion that nothing bad has happened to me, I'm simply going to say, "Praise the Lord! Thank you!" and be done with it!

Monday, March 21, 2011

ONE THOUSAND!

This officially marks my one thousandth post on Because I Said So! Holy cow, I don't know how I've thought of a thousand things to write!

I love blogging because it's opened this fabulous community to me. So many moms can relate to things I write because I'm an ordinary mom doing ordinary things and I have ordinary kids who act like kids. It's nice to see someone else doing the same things/going through the same things that you are. It's depressing trying to live up to that "Perfect Mom" image. You know the type of mom who showers. Every day! The kind of mom who always has on nice clothing, make-up, and actual hair care products. The kind of mom whose children are clean and dressed to the nines. The sort of mom who has a floor so clean you can eat off it, not the kind of mom who has a floor you can eat off of simply because there are so many crumbs on it. Instead of trying to live up to Perfect Mom, it's much more comforting to know you're not alone in your quest to both love your kids, and to make it through the day without breaking down, curling up into a fetal position and rocking back and forth.

Thank you for being part of my community, for reading all these years, for your kind comments, and for supporting me and my family! You guys rock!

So, for this thousandth post, I think it's fitting to reprint my eBay auction that brought attention to this blog and made me go from about 10 hits a day to 94,000 overnight.


And here's the text of the auction. . .

I'm selling a bunch of Pokemon cards. Why? Because my kids sneaked them into my shopping cart while at the grocery store and I ended up buying them because I didn't notice they were there until we got home. How could I have possibly not noticed they were in my cart, you ask? Let me explain.

You haven’t lived until you’ve gone grocery shopping with six kids in tow. I would rather swim, covered in bait, through the English Channel, be a contestant on Fear Factor when they’re having pig brains for lunch, or do fourth grade math than to take my six kids to the grocery store. Because I absolutely detest grocery shopping, I tend to put it off as long as possible. There comes a time, however, when you’re peering into your fridge and thinking, ‘Hmmm, what can I make with ketchup, Italian dressing, and half an onion,’ that you decide you cannot avoid going to the grocery store any longer. Before beginning this most treacherous mission, I gather all the kids together and give them “The Lecture“.

“The Lecture“ goes like this…
MOM: “We have to go to the grocery store.”
KIDS: “Whine whine whine whine whine.“
MOM: “Hey, I don’t want to go either, but it’s either that or we’re eating cream of onion-ketchup soup and drinking Italian dressing for dinner tonight.”
KIDS: “Whine whine whine whine whine.“
MOM: “Now here are the rules: do not ask me for anything, do not poke the packages of meat in the butcher section, do not test the laws of physics and try to take out the bottom can in the pyramid shaped display, do not play baseball with oranges in the produce section, and most importantly, do not try to leave your brother at the store. Again.”

OK, the kids have been briefed. Time to go.

Once at the store, we grab not one, but two shopping carts. I wear the baby in a sling and the two little children sit in the carts while I push one cart and my oldest son pushes the other one. My oldest daughter is not allowed to push a cart. Ever. Why? Because the last time I let her push the cart, she smashed into my ankles so many times, my feet had to be amputated by the end of our shopping trip. This is not a good thing. You try running after a toddler with no feet sometime.

At this point, a woman looks at our two carts and asks me, “Are they all yours?” I answer good naturedly, “Yep!

“Oh my, you have your hands full.”

“Yes, I do, but it‘s fun!” I say smiling. I’ve heard all this before. In fact, I hear it every time I go anywhere with my brood.

We begin in the produce section where all these wonderfully, artistically arranged pyramids of fruit stand. There is something so irresistibly appealing about the apple on the bottom of the pile, that a child cannot help but try to touch it. Much like a bug to a zapper, the child is drawn to this piece of fruit. I turn around to the sounds of apples cascading down the display and onto the floor. Like Indiana Jones, there stands my son holding the all-consuming treasure that he just HAD to get and gazing at me with this dumbfounded look as if to say, “Did you see that??? Wow! I never thought that would happen!”

I give the offending child an exasperated sigh and say, “Didn’t I tell you, before we left, that I didn’t want you taking stuff from the bottom of the pile???”

“No. You said that you didn’t want us to take a can from the bottom of the pile. You didn’t say anything about apples.”

With superhuman effort, I resist the urge to send my child to the moon and instead focus on the positive - my child actually listened to me and remembered what I said!!! I make a mental note to be a little more specific the next time I give the kids The Grocery Store Lecture.

A little old man looks at all of us and says, “Are all of those your kids?”

Thinking about the apple incident, I reply, “Nope. They just started following me. I’ve never seen them before in my life.”

OK, now onto the bakery section where everything smells so good, I’m tempted to fill my cart with cookies and call it a day. Being on a perpetual diet, I try to hurry past the assortment of pies, cakes, breads, and pastries that have my children drooling. At this point the chorus of “Can we gets” begins.

“Can we get donuts?”
“No.”
“Can we get cupcakes?”
“No.”
“Can we get muffins?”
“No.”
“Can we get pie?”
“No.”

You’d think they’d catch on by this point, but no, they’re just getting started.

In the bakery, they’re giving away free samples of coffee cake and of course, my kids all take one. The toddler decides he doesn’t like it and proceeds to spit it out in my hand. (That’s what moms do. We put our hands in front of our children’s mouths so they can spit stuff into them. We’d rather carry around a handful of chewed up coffee cake, than to have the child spit it out onto the floor. I’m not sure why this is, but ask any mom and she’ll tell you the same.) Of course, there’s no garbage can around, so I continue shopping one-handed while searching for someplace to dispose of the regurgitated mess in my hand.

In the meat department, a mother with one small baby asks me, “Wow! Are all six yours?”
I answer her, “Yes, but I’m thinking of selling a couple of them.”

(Still searching for a garbage can at this point.)

Ok, after the meat department, my kids’ attention spans are spent. They’re done shopping at this point, but we aren’t even halfway through the store. This is about the time they like to start having shopping cart races. And who may I thank for teaching them this fun pastime? My seventh “child”, also known as my husband. While I’m picking out loaves of bread, the kids are running down the aisle behind the carts in an effort to get us kicked out of the store. I put to stop to that just as my son is about to crash head on into a giant cardboard cut-out of a Keebler elf stacked with packages of cookies.

Ah! Yes! I find a small trash can by the coffee machine in the cereal aisle and finally dump out the squishy contents of my hand. After standing in the cereal aisle for an hour and a half while the kids perused the various cereals, comparing the marshmallow and cheap, plastic toy content of each box, I broke down and let them each pick out a box. At any given time, we have twenty open boxes of cereal in my house.

As this is going on, my toddler is playing Houdini and maneuvering his little body out of the seat belt in an attempt to stand up in the cart. I’m amazed the kid made it to his second birthday without suffering a brain damaging head injury. In between trying to flip himself out of the cart, he sucks on the metal bars of the shopping cart. Mmmm, can you say “influenza”?

The shopping trip continues much like this. I break up fights between the kids now and then and stoop down to pick up items that the toddler has flung out of the cart. I desperately try to get everything on my list without adding too many other goodies to the carts.

Somehow I manage to complete my shopping in under four hours and head for the check-outs where my kids start in on a chorus of, “Can we have candy?” What evil minded person decided it would be a good idea to put a display of candy in the check-out lanes, right at a child’s eye level? Obviously someone who has never been shopping with children.

As I unload the carts, I notice many extra items that my kids have sneaked in the carts unbeknownst to me. I remove a box of Twinkies, a package of cupcakes, a bag of candy, and a can of cat food (we don’t even have a cat!). I somehow missed the box of Pokemon cards however and ended up purchasing them unbeknownst to me. As I pay for my purchases, the clerk looks at me, indicates my kids, and asks, “Are they all yours?”

Frustrated, exhausted from my trip, sick to my stomach from writing out a check for $289.53, dreading unloading all the groceries and putting them away and tired of hearing that question, I look at the clerk and answer her in my most sarcastic voice, “No. They’re not mine. I just go around the neighborhood gathering up kids to take to the grocery store because it’s so much more fun that way.”

So, up for auction is an opened (they ripped open the box on the way home from the store) package of Pokemon cards. There are 44 cards total. They're in perfect condition, as I took them away from the kiddos as soon as we got home from the store. Many of them say "Energy". I tried carrying them around with me, but they didn't work. I definitely didn't have any more energy than usual. One of them is shiny. There are a few creature-like things on many of them. One is called Pupitar. Hee hee hee Pupitar! (Oh no! My kids' sense of humor is rubbing off on me!) Anyway, I don't think there's anything special about any of these cards, but I'm very much not an authority on Pokemon cards. I just know that I'm not letting my kids keep these as a reward for their sneakiness.

Shipping is FREE on this item. Insurance is optional, but once I drop the package at the post office, it is no longer my responsibility. For example, if my son decides to pour a bottle of glue into the envelope, or my daughter spills a glass of juice on the package, that’s my responsibility and I will fully refund your money. If, however, I take the envelope to the post office and a disgruntled mail carrier sets fire to it, a pack of wild dogs rip into it, or a mail sorting machine shreds it, it’s out of my hands, so you may want to add insurance. I will leave feedback for you as soon as I’ve received your payment. I will be happy to combine shipping on multiple items won within three days. This comes from a smoke-free, pet-free, child-filled home. Please ask me any questions before placing your bid. Happy bidding! :)

I'm 104?


My kids convinced me to step on the Wii Fit balance board today.  Okay, I thought.  This will be fun!  I’ll play Wii with the kids for awhile before I start packing again.  Anything to put off doing work, right?

So I stepped in front of the TV and looked for my Mii (the little avatar that looks like you).  My kids made my Mii for me about a year ago and I couldn’t remember what it looked like.

I found what I thought was my Mii.

My kids stopped me from selecting that one.  ”Noooo, Mom! That’s not you! That one is you!” they said, indicating another Mii.

One that is the spitting image of me.  She’s as short as a Mii can be.  She’s at maximum Mii fatness.  She has the same wrinkles and bags under her eyes as I do.  Gee, thanks, kids!

So, I selected my doppelganger and proceeded.  The Wii began to talk to me.

“Hi Mom!  It’s been 280 days since I’ve seen you.  What, too busy to workout, Tubby?  Save your excuses, Mom.  Let’s do a body test.  Step on the board.  Before we start, can you tell me how much your clothes weigh?”

I looked at Lexi who was holding the Wii remote and said, “Fifty pounds.  Put fifty pounds.”

She raised her eyebrows and just stared at me.

“What?  This is a very heavy t-shirt!” I insisted.

“Moooom!”

“Fine.  Just click heavy.”

Lexi obliged, then the Wii told me to stand on the board and relax the tension in my shoulders.

“Relax the tension in my shoulders?  Really?  Do you see the six kids running around like maniacs?  Could you relax with that?”  I yelled back at the Wii.

The Wii continued with, “Measuring, measuring, measuring, measuring, measuring. . .”

“Wow, it’s taking a long time to measure”, Lexi noted.

“It’s because Mom’s so fat!” Clay explained.

I whipped around to give Clay the evil eye which made the Wii admonish me.

ERROR! Are you fidgeting?  Stand still!”

“Hey. . .we’ve already passed the deadline for the goal you set, haven’t we?”

I glared at the TV and said, “Really?  You have to write those words in red?  What, just illustrating your point?”

The Wii continued.  ”So. . . have you reached your goalMom? Maybe if you’d spend less time sitting on that fat butt and more time exercising, you would have reached your goal. Have a salad now and then, Mom, and perhaps your kids will make you a new Mii that isn’t so round.”

The kids are laughing uproariously at this point.  Lexi and Clay have fallen off the couch and are literally “ROFL”.

The Wii was relentless.  It continued to taunt me.

“Maybe you should make a smaller goal, or one that’s easier to reach,” it patronized.  ”Now let’s do a little body test.”

As the Wii explained what I was supposed to do, Lexi used the remote to fly through the instructions, giving me .00008 seconds to read them.

“What am I supposed to do?  WHAT DO I DO?!” I asked in a panic.

The kids all tried to explain at once.

“What?” I yelled as I wavered on the board.  But it was too late.  The Wii had already calculated the results of the test.

“The agility test OBVIOUSLY wasn’t your strong suit.  And now I’d like to present you with your Wii Fit age!” it announced in grand fashion.

drumroll (Seriously, there was an actual drumroll!)

104!

The kids nearly wet their pants laughing.  This is what I get for procrastinating.  Back to packing.  Guess what’s getting packed away first!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday Sound Out

From Chicago, home of the largest taco, it's your host, the woman who got a whole case of coconut M&Ms in the mail (thank you, Natalie!!!), Dawn Damalas Meehan! And now here are the answers to this week's questions!


You have all 6 kids in the photo! So how are the boys doing? Both are out of the hospital and home now?
Yeah, they're out of the hospital and overall, doing much, much better. Still, there are times when they (and Lexi) struggle with depression.


Ok - I will say something stupid now cos I am a mom too! Do you know your eldest kids are now BIGGER than you???
Uh yeah. Austin and Savannah passed me in height a long time ago. It's a good thing though; they can reach things off the high shelves for me.

Oh, it makes me kind of sad to hear that you'll be doing most of your blogging over there. Can't you do both, since this one is more personal and the other is more public?
Here's my nice answer - I am blogging in both places. Both blogs are public.
Here's my authentic answer - Are you for real?!!!

Yes we will go over to Babble to read your awesome writings because obviously it is too hard for you to copy-paste your writings in both places.
Sigh. That's not how it works. My posts on Babble.com as are Babble's posts. I can't copy them here. I link to them here to make it easier for you to just click and continue reading, instead of having to go over there and search for my blog (although Babble's a great site and if you have time, you should look around some!) Babble.com

How does it work? Do you just get paid to blog or do you get paid by how many people comment, etc? Want to help you any way I can so if you need me signing in over there I'll do it pretty much daily...
I get paid by impressions. For every thousand people who read my post there (by going to Babble.com and finding it, or by clicking the links I provide here), I get paid. I don't get paid for comments (although all bloggers love them!), and it doesn't count if you click on my blog multiple times a day to try to boost numbers.

Do you know where you'll be living? Are you planning a nearby moove, or is this a long-haul cross-country marathon?
I don't know yet. First things first. I'm cleaning out my house and having some realtors give me a market analysis. If I sell the house, we'll be moving out of the area. It's much too expensive around here. Even little one bedroom apartments cost almost as much as my mortgage payment and I don't know how I'd fit 7 of us into a one bedroom apartment. I need to find a place that has good schools, better weather, is not too far to come back here and visit, and has much cheaper housing.
I was really upset about moving. I mean, I'm personally okay with it because it's just a house. You should never get so attached to material things. God is all I need and He goes with me wherever I go. Still, I worry about my kids. I hate to uproot them and take them away from their friends and everything familiar, especially at this point in their lives when other things suck for them.

I don't want to sound callous, but have you thought about going back to work, at least part-time? Since Brooklyn's in school at least part of the day, I thought maybe you could find something to help you out. Maybe a bakery needs a good cake designer! Or Starbucks could be hiring to make fancy drinks. That would at least bring in a little extra income.
It's not callous. I think of it every day. Brooklyn goes to school 2 hours a day, 3 days a week which is hardly enough time to get a job. I could put her in the low-income daycare and find a job that would bring in about as much as I make writing. The only advantage would be better insurance for me and my kids. The disadvantages would be giving up writing because I don't think I can work full-time, take care of a house and six kids by myself and write. And, of course, leaving my kids (especially the boys who are still quite depressed) alone.
I make enough money writing to squeak by as long as I get regular child support. However, I'm not getting regular child support. Yeah, I'm taking Joe to court. Yeah, he'll probably be put in jail. Big deal. It still doesn't get us child support. So, bottom line is that I have to cut my expenses while working to increase my income because it's all up to me.
Don't think, because I don't write every detail of what all I'm working on, it means I'm doing nothing and waiting for an opportunity to fall in my lap.

Dawn, I am praying for you and your family. I wish I could do something to help out. Do you have any manuscripts that you could publish on Kindle? There are no guarantees, but it would be worth a shot, don't you think? Do you read J.A. Konrath's blog? Anyway, I sure wish I had a way to help. I will be in prayer that God will intervene for you.
Funny you should mention Joe Konrath. I went to high school with him, and was just talking to a mutual friend about his passion for self-publishing on Kindle. I think I need to take him out to lunch and pick his brain.


Did the bathroom project stall out? is it done yet? Photos?
All done! Here's the BEFORE picture. . .



Here's the AFTER picture. . .


I've written some articles for Circle of Moms and you can read them HERE. Also, I've been nominated as one of the funniest moms by Circle of Moms. You can vote for me once a day until the 23rd. Top 25 Funny Moms Thank you!

And the winner of my Sonic giveaway is. . .
Val said...

My kids love to ride bikes to the park. I LOVE me some Sonic!


Congratulations!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Why my Smoke Detector is in my Backyard

I haven’t been sleeping all that well lately. Stress does that to a person. But last night, I awoke at 4:00 (a whopping hour after I went to bed) to a high pitched chirp. A minute later, I heard it again. And again. I finally managed to wake up enough to figure out it was the smoke alarm. I was so tired, however, I decided the house could burn down around me for all I cared; I wasn’t going to pull myself from bed.


At 4:30, I was still lying there awake. Despite the mound of pillows atop my head, the constant chirping was loud and clear and my pulse jumped at every beep of the detector.

I dragged myself out of my nice warm bed, pulled a chair over to the smoke detector and took out the battery. As I put the chair back, it beeped again. What the??? I took out the battery! Why is it still beeping? I pulled the chair back, jammed the battery back in, pushed the reset button and waited. Chirp! I gave up and trudged back to bed.

I lay there awake, my eyes wide, my nerves jumping a little at every beep.  It was worse than having a newborn!  At 5:00, I heard Savannah get out of bed, push a chair down the hallway, and rip the battery out of the alarm. Chirp, chirp, CHIRP! I heard her go back to bed.

At 5:30, mad at the world and tired to the bone, I stomped out of bed, grabbed a screwdriver, removed the smoke detector from the ceiling, opened the door, and whipped the evil thing into my backyard. I turned toward my bedroom and heard BEEP!

I may have said a few choice words at this point. It’s all kind of a blur. I tramped down the hall just as the carbon monoxide detector beeped. Aha! I tore the door off and flung the batteries out of it. Obviously, my sleep-deprived brain wasn’t functioning or I would have definitely called 9-1-1 to get some firemen over to my house make sure it was just the battery and we weren’t all going to die in our sleep from carbon monoxide poisoning. Instead, I flopped into bed and five minutes later, I was sound asleep.

The moral of the story is, when you change your clocks, change the batteries in your smoke and CO detectors, notsomuch to keep you safe, but so you aren’t awakened in the middle of the night (because that’s when this kind of thing always happens!)  And, if this does happen for some reason, put on your sexy nightie, brush your teeth, and call in the firemen, for crying out loud!

Packing it In

Right now, it looks like we’ll be moving soon. I say “right now” because in the next couple months I could be paid a bazillion dollars to write a sitcom, I could win the lottery, I could meet a single, rich man who wants half a dozen kids, or my ex-husband could decide to get a job and pay all the back child support he owes me. Oh, I crack myself up!


But really, you never know what might happen. Every time I try to make plans, I feel like God laughs at me, so I try to make the best decisions I can with the information I have right now. And then I go with the flow and realize that the best-laid plans sometimes change.
I’m not looking forward to moving because all my friends are here, all my kids’ friends are here, and we like our town.  I don’t want to start all over finding good stores and schools and doctors.  I don’t want to live without Chicago pizza.  And most importantly, I don’t want to pack up seven people’s stuff.  <—That last part has to be said in an annoying whine while stomping your feet to get the full effect.

As much as I don’t want to pack, I resigned myself to boxing up my belongings. I started in my bedroom today. Now, I’m not a pack rat. I frequently go through our possessions to keep clutter at bay. I throw out, donate, and organize stuff all the time. When seven people live in a house that’s about 1100 square feet, if an item doesn’t serve a purpose, it doesn’t have a place. So, tell me, why is it that I threw away twenty new, blank checkbook registers today? I’ve used the same register for the past ten years because that’s how often I record my banking transactions. Any decade now, I’ll need a new one. It’s a good thing I saved so many of them.

I also weeded out five checkbook covers, two chargers for old cell phones, and nearly fifteen pounds of stationary. The last time I wrote a letter on paper, I was in the third grade. I had three broken hangers because, well, you just never know when you might need a broken hanger to hang up, um, a ah, shirt with one sleeve? I had a dozen boxes with a handful of leftover Valentine’s Day cards in each, and a sandwich bag full of bingo markers, despite the fact I’d gotten rid of the cards a long time ago. 

I think the most ridiculous best things I found were the half a petrified bagel, the spoon covered with some sort of brown goo, the piece of American cheese that had turned into a rubber coaster, the forty-eight empty fruit snack wrappers, and the rotten apple that had sprouted legs and was chasing me around the bed with a Lego sword.  I know that sounds disgusting, but I have a waterbed and I can’t exactly move it out and clean behind it.  Clearly, I need to get out the yard stick more often.

Tomorrow, I think I’ll tackle the boys’ room.  If you don’t see me around here for a few days, call in the Marines.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Moving On

Now and then Joe texts me. I generally don't respond because I don't care to talk to him, his texts don't usually require an answer, and more often than not, they don't make sense. Believe me, it's easier to just ignore them.

Last week he texted me, telling me that he had a job and would be starting Monday. I didn't respond because what was I supposed to say? Congratulations? I'm so proud of you? Yay? He's had a job all along quite frankly, but he's gotten paid in cash under the table/free room and board/whatever and not passed along a penny of child support from that job, so why should this one be different? Would this be an actual job with W2s and everything? A job where the state could take out child support once again? Honestly, I doubted he even had a job anyway, so I just ignored the text.

Today, I went to pick up some medication for Austin. It wasn't covered by AllKids. It cost $271. I couldn't get it. For the past couple days, Savannah's been complaining of pain and popping sounds in the knee she had surgery on last May. Her orthopedic doctor doesn't accept AllKids. I haven't been able to make an appointment with him. So I broke down and texted Joe to ask him if this was a real job and if he was carrying insurance on the kids again. Apparently "the job fell through". Shocking.

I wrote out a check to pay my taxes today. It was an obscenely high amount. I mean, make you sick to your stomach high amount. On the bright side, I was prepared for this. Taxes hadn't been taken out of any of my income last year and I knew I'd be owing a lot. Thankfully, I had the exact amount I owe set aside for this purpose. That's the good news.

The bad news is that it leaves me with maybe three months' worth of money for living expenses. (And that is thanks to the enormous generosity of you guys!) I've been struggling with so many decisions regarding the future for me and my kids. Today I had to make the tough choice to put my house up for sale. But I can't count on my ex-husband for anything and based on my little income, we can't stay here. It sucks. I hate having to uproot my kids like this especially when they're still having issues with depression.

Taking a deep breath, dealing with the punches as they come, enjoying the little moments, doing what has to be done, and as always, trusting God to carry us through.


*****Please check out my new blog on Babble.com for some laughs! Click HERE!

Rockstar Multi-tasking

I dropped off Brooklyn to her preschool class about five minutes late today. Brooklyn walked in and loudly announced to her teachers, her classmates, the custodian, and pretty much everyone within a five mile radius, “I’m late today because my mom was on the phone and going to the bathroom.” Ugh, you’d think Art Linkletter had appeared with a microphone as she walked into her classroom.

My face turned red. Actually, it burst into flames. I stammered something like, “These things didn’t happen simultaneously. Really. Um, I have to go. I mean, as in leave the building. Not as in use the bathroom. Because obviously, I already did that. But not while talking on the phone. Okay bye.”

In all fairness, I have to admit that I have talked on the phone while peeing a time or two or twenty, however. I’ve sent texts while sitting on the toilet. I’ve added items to my shopping list while in the bathroom. I should probably be really embarrassed about this, but I’m choosing to look at it in a different light. I’m looking at it like an accomplishment worthy of praise because clearly, I’m a rockstar multi-tasker!

I check math homework while washing dishes, I referee fights while cooking dinner, I braid hair while reading email, and I shovel toxic sludge out of clean the boys’ room while talking on the phone. Now any mom can do these things. Moms invented multi-tasking. But if anyone can multi-task better than a mom, it’s a single mom. I didn’t even know it was physically possible to juggle all I’ve been juggling for the past year and a half. If anyone had told me then that I’d be raising my six kids completely on my own with no help from their father, or family, and with precious little financial support, I don’t think I would have believed it.

They say necessity is the mother of invention, but I think it’s the mother of multi-tasking. Plain and simple, we do what we have to do. We don’t curl up and cry. Well, sometimes we do, but then we dry our tears, pull ourselves up and do what needs to be done. Sometimes that means, staying up until 3:00 in the morning to finish work, wash your floor, or fill out yet another application for aid. Sometimes it means having a conversation with your teen while folding laundry. Sometimes it means paying bills while listening to your child read to you.  And yes, sometimes it means talking on the phone while you pee.

So hat’s off to you single moms out there, whether you’re single by choice, by death or divorce, or because your husband is deployed or just works a lot of hours. It’s a juggling act and you do it well! (See how I turned this around to praise all you hard working moms instead of focusing on the fact I occasionally, rarely, almost never talk and pee simultaneously?)

Be sure to visit Stephanie's blog for a chance to win a copy of my latest book, You'll Lose the Baby Weight (and Other Lies About Pregnancy and Childbirth). Click HERE. And check back every day this month because she's giving away a book a day with a grand prize of all 31+ books at the end of the month!

Sonic Giveaway!

For years and years, Sonic commercials played on tv even though there wasn't a single Sonic Drive-In anywhere near Chicago. The commercials taunted me and I became obsessed with wanting to try out their drinks and ice cream creations. Finally, Sonic came to Chicagoland and I was able to learn what all the hype was about. Now I'm addicted to their strawberry limeade, tator tots, and coconut cream pie shakes. Yum!



In March and April, SONIC Wacky Packs will feature one of five SONIC Pro Outdoor Toys designed to keep kids active. The five toys include:
- SONIC Pro(tm) Glider
- SONIC Pro(tm) Kick
- SONIC Pro(tm) Football
- SONIC Pro(tm) Flyer
- SONIC Pro(tm) Hydrator.

Leave me a comment here and let me know how you keep your family active and I'll choose a random winner from the comments on Friday, March 18. Be sure to include your email address/way to contact you. Good luck!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Opa!

I’m a single mom of six children which means the only time I get to leave the house is when I’m watching one of the kids’ hockey, baseball, softball, or football games.  Or when I’m running them to the store at 9:00 at night to get posterboard for a project they’ve had three weeks to complete and is due in the morning.  Or when I’m going to the grocery store because we’re out of food despite the fact that I went shopping two days ago.  (For some reason, my kids like to eat.  Every day.)  Or when I’m taking one of them to the ER because he thinks he’s Tony Hawk every time he gets on his skateboard.  (He’s not.)  Or when I’m picking them up from school.  Or when I’m driving them to the mall or the movies or a friend’s house.  Or when I’m simply hiding out in my van on the driveway, scarfing down chocolate so I don’t have to share it with them.


Don’t you hate getting caught eating chocolate?

“What are you eating, Mom?”

“Nothing.”

“Yes, you are.  What do you have?”

“It’s a fiber bar.  It’s yucky.  It’s diet food.  You wouldn’t like it.  It tastes like onions.”

“Why does it smell like chocolate, Mom?”

“NoItDoesn’tDoYouHaveAnyHomework?”

The quick change of topic almost always saves the day.  Keep that in mind.

Anyway, I very rarely get to go out by myself for any reason so it was a huge treat this weekend when my sister took me out to dinner for my birthday.  We went to a Greek restaurant where I had a great time!  I randomly called out names in an attempt to get the attention of our waiter.  ”Gus, Peter, Bill, Dimitri, Spiros. . .”  When I got to “Nick”, half the restaurant turned around.  At one point, belly dancers came out and gyrated around the tables.  I threatened to suggested we join the dancers.  I snapped random pictures during dinner, but in my defense, I couldn’t pass up this opportunity.  I mean look at it!


Elmo likes dancing! Elmo wants to kiss the belly dancer!

A strategically placed Elmo is gawking at the belly dancer.  Now how often do you see something like that?

My sister may never set foot in public with me again.  But I say, when your outings are few and far between, you need to make the most of each one!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Growing Old Gracefully

It was my birthday last Thursday.  Do you remember telling people, “I’m eight and THREE QUARTERS,” lest they think you were only eight and a half, or worse yet, only eight?  I don’t do that anymore.  I’m much more secure than I was as a child.  I have no problem telling people my real age without any embellishments.  I have no reason to lie or pretend I’m a different age than I really am.
So, last week, I turned thirty-eleven.


I spent the day doing fun birthday-like activities.  For example, I emptied the dishwasher, did 6 loads of laundry, and washed my kitchen floor.  I don’t like to brag, but well, since it was my birthday, I guess it’s okay to admit that I also got to scrub the toilet. I know!  I can see you’re green with envy.

I even took a little money and splurged on a present for myself.  I bought a pair of used hockey skates in Jackson’s size.  Okay, so maybe they weren’t exactly for me.  But I got the skates from Play it Again and there are cute twenty-something year old guys who work there so it was sort of for me.  It’s okay (and not at all creepy) because I’m still twenty-something in my mind.

In fact, the the other day, I got in the checkout line at the grocery store with a bottle of wine.  The cashier asked me for my ID.  I said, all giddy-like, “Because I look under twenty-one!”  The cashier was supposed to say, “Why yes, yes you do!”  That is not, however, what he actually did say.  He laughed.  I don’t mean a good-natured chuckle either.  I mean a full-blown guffaw!  He snorted, he laughed, he wrapped his arms around his sides and doubled over.  His face turned red, tears streamed down his cheeks, and he made weird squeaky noises as he tried to breathe.  

Because his reaction wasn’t humiliating enough, my teenage daughter who was shopping with me,  joined him in the hilarity.  I left them clutching each other as they attempted to regain some semblance of control, grabbed my wine and walked to the door, their uproarious laughter trailing behind me.  As far as I know, they’re still laughing.

I rounded out my birthday evening by taking a good hard look at myself and deciding to simply accept my age.  After all, age is only a number, right?  I intend to grow old gracefully.  I’m not going to worry about the parentheses around my mouth or the crow’s feet under my eyes.  I’m not going to get discouraged when I need help getting off the floor after playing a game with my little kids.  Nope, I’m thankful for a reason to celebrate another birthday.  I’m thankful for my health.  I’m thankful for my six awesome kids who give me reasons to smile every day.  I’m thankful for, oops, my timer just went off.  Time to rinse the dye out of my hair.

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