Friday, July 31, 2009

God Told Me To

Clay has a shoe problem - in that he can never find them. I'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact that
A. He never puts them away where they belong, and
B. He's a boy and therefore cannot find anything unless it jumps out and bites him on the butt.

Yesterday was no exception. As I was scrambling to get everyone ready and in the car for vacation bible school, Clay was looking for his shoes. And by "looking for his shoes", I mean wandering around aimlessly, saying, I can't find my shoes. Do I have to wear shoes?"

He managed to find one shoe in the closet where it belongs. Jackson found the other one, after searching high and low for a good 10 minutes, in the garage. (I have no idea.)

Then this morning, I handed Clay a pair of socks as I was folding laundry and told him, "Get your socks and shoes on." (I used to say "get your shoes and socks on", but I have too many smart-aleck kids who would put their shoes on first and then try to pull their socks on over their shoes. "Well you said to put my shoes and socks on," they'd smirk.)

Anyway, Clay marched off with his socks, seemingly to put them on and find his shoes. About 10 minutes later, I saw him, still barefoot, watching TV. I gently reminded him, "TURN OFF THE TV AND PUT YOUR STINKIN' SHOES AND SOCKS ON!" He looked at me and said, "I don't have any socks."

"Yes you do! I just gave you a pair," I responded, frustrated.

"They're wet," he said simply.

"Why are they wet?" I demanded.

"Because I was trying to run on water."

Well duh. Makes perfect sense to me.

"What do you mean - you were trying to run on water? What water? Where?"

"In the sink."

"You were trying to run in the bathroom sink? For real?" I asked, incredulous. Not much Clay does surprises me anymore, but trying to run in the bathroom sink filled with water sounded pretty strange even for Clay.

"Yeah," he admitted.

"Why, why, WHY???"

He thought for a moment and said, "God told me to."

Oh yeah, this is what has come out of vacation bible school. I can just see it now. That's going to be his excuse for everything for the next month.

Why aren't you eating your vegetables?
God told me not to.

Why did you hit your sister?
God told me to.

Why are you driving me to drink?
God told me to.

Fun times ahead.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Paula Deen Giveaway

Those of you who have read my blog for some time, know that I hate I'm not overly fond of Walmart. I'm just not. Maybe it's the fact that the parking lot stinks. Maybe it's because there are like 2 cart returns in the entire lot. Maybe it's because I can never find anything in the store or because I don't appreciate the quality of the merchandise they carry. Maybe it's the other people who shop there that bug me. Or perhaps it's because I love Target so much and can't imagine going anywhere else for my toilet paper, shampoo, diaper wipes, laundry detergent, kids' clothes, birthday presents, etc.

That said, I stopped by the Walmart display at BlogHer last week because Paula Deen was there since Walmart is going to be carrying her baked goods. My kids love watching Food Network and trying out her recipes. I was personally just trying to see if her sons were there. (Did I just say that out loud?) I mean, I just wanted to hear her talk because she's got that quintessential southern accent that just makes you smile.

She offered me a sample of her baked goodies. "Here, try a gooey butter bar," she said.

I asked her, all concerned-like, "There's not any butter in these, is there?"

She looked at me like I was completely stupid, then said sarcastically, "No. Try one."

I like her! LOL!

So, I have this reusable Walmart bag to give away to one reader. It contains some sort of lip gloss, a dry erase picture frame, some baby food and a pedometer. But the best part is that the bag is signed by Paula Deen!

Leave me a comment here and I'll choose one random winner on Monday, August 3. Winner will have until midnight on Wednesday, August 5 to check back here and email me with their shipping address. Contest open to U.S. residents.
I don't do paid reviews, but I did get this bag for free at BlogHer.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A BOY Said "Hi"!

I took the kids to the pool this evening. Well, I didn't take Jackson since he can't swim until he gets his stitches out. And I didn't take Brooklyn because I told her she had to eat her dinner if she wanted to go to the pool. Instead of eating, she chose to lick a piece of bread and drink half a cup of Hershey's syrup (don't ask). But the other 4 and I headed over to the pool after dinner.

We walked in and a boy said, "Hi Savannah!" A BOY said hi to my little girl!

In my mind, I walked over to him and demanded, "Why are you talking to my daughter? Do you know she's only 13? How do you know her? You better not let your eyes drop below her face, Mister! And pull up your trunks! And get a haircut!" I snapped back to reality and kept on walking before I could embarrass my daughter and make her hate me forever.

Instead I casually asked Savannah, "So, who is that and why does he think he has the right to talk to you?!" I mean, "So, how do you know him?"

Just as casually, she answered, "From school."

"A-HA!" I shouted in her face! "I mean, oh, really, you know him from school. That's nice."

She looked at me, perplexed as to why I was suddenly acting like some sort of psychopath.

"He's just a boy, Mom," she assured me with only the slightest hint of an eye roll.

"Do I know his parents?! Does he go to church? Where does he live? What kind of grades does he get? Does he smoke? Does he do drugs? Is he a nice boy?"
"I mean, um, what's his name?" I asked with a forced smile.

Savannah looked at me, deadpan, and was about to tell me to get a grip when a group of her girlfriends came over, giggling and talking and they all ran off toward the diving board. Being the completely sensible, logical, non-freak-outish mother I am, I sent Lexi to spy on her. Then I sat down to design Savannah's future bathing suit.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Vacation Bible School - Take One

We have vacation bible school this week. What this means is I've been having to set an alarm for the first time this summer and the kids and I have been getting up at the ungodly hour of 7:30. This week, I've learned that one can actually shower, make coffee, drive a car, and sing This Little Light of Mine without technically being awake.

I'm staying at the church during bible school because I'm crazy I like hanging out and helping. It's a fun week. And, wonderfully awesome mom that I am, I'm sharing the fun with Austin and Savannah. I put Austin to work in the kitchen with me and Savannah is helping another mom with a group of kids.

Because I'm staying and helping out in the kitchen, Brooklyn hangs out in the nursery during VBS. The sweet woman who watches her, Mrs. Abbott, has, along with her husband, watched all my kids from Savannah down to Brooklyn during worship service over the years. Yesterday Brooklyn was "making hot chocolate" in the play kitchen for Mrs. Abbott. Mrs. Abbott told her, "I'd like a marshmallow in mine, please." Brooklyn put a pretend marshmallow in the cup and served it up.

Today, we actually had marshmallows as part of our snack. (It was the plagues of Egypt snack and the mini marshmallows were the hail, Gushers were the boils that exploded in disgustingness when you bit into them, mini chocolate chips were gnats, pretzels were crunchy locusts, and raisins were hmmm frogs? I don't remember what the raisins were supposed to represent, but it doesn't matter since only 1 kid out of the 50 or so actually ate the raisins.

Anyway, we had actual marshmallows today so Mrs. Abbott got Brooklyn a little cup of marshmallows. Back in the nursery, she asked Brooklyn to "make her a cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows" again. Brooklyn handed her a cup full of imaginary hot chocolate. Mrs. Abbott asked her, "Where are the marshmallows?"

Brooklyn answered, "You have to pretend." Then she went back to the play kitchen and proceeded to eat all the real marshmallows herself.

Brooklyn (in her jewels, of course) cooking her pretend food

The Queen of the Kitchen, Mrs. Marcks, asked Austin to draw some bugs and swamp-like creatures on the tablecloths. Little did she know, Austin would spend 2 whole days covering the tablecloths with such details.

Crocodile Dock

And here's a picture from last night. We went to a Schaumburg Flyers baseball vs. Chicago Bandits girl's softball game. The girls won, but unlike our Cubs, they only took 7 innings to do so.

Oh yeah, that was money well-spent on Brooklyn's ticket. She had fun playing with Savannah's friend's phone all night.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

BlogHer - Part Two

I got home from BlogHer today. It was lots of fun, but I'm very happy to be home. I missed my kiddies. I just love that moment when I get home and the kids run out to me and squeal, "Mommy!" and give me kisses. Until they start fighting and making me wistful for the quietness of the hotel room, that is...

Here are the answer's to this week's questions and a few more pictures from BlogHer. I'm exhausted and need to get to bed because Vacation Bible School starts tomorrow!

Poor guy! [in regards to Jackson's foot] Do you think he'll try to get out of bathing since he can't swim, which in his mind means it can't get wet?
I don't see why not. He tries to get out of bathing when he's perfectly healthy, I don't see any reason why he'd stop now.

So, I've got to know...What was in your bed? I would have called the head of hosuekeeping to come look, and then had them remake the bed!
I carefully pulled the comforter back and the sheets were perfectly clean and smooth. It turned out to be just a really lumpy comforter.

Me and Rita from Look, It's Megryansmom

Me & Mrs. PotatoHead

Clair from Mummy Deals (my English friend with the lovely accent) and me

gorgeous view of the city

The Hancock

The Oscar Mayer wienermobile

Me with Dave and Laura, 2 of the 12 "hotdoggers", who drive 1 of 6 wienermobiles in the country. These guys were great! It was so much fun riding around the city in a 27 foot hotdog, especially when Stephanie got on the speaker and sang, "I like big buns and I cannot lie!"

Me with Paula Deen. She's so cute in person. She was there because Walmart is now carrying Paula Deen baked goods. She offered me a sample of her baked goodies. "Here, try a gooey butter bar," she said. I asked her, all concerned-like, "There's not any butter in these, is there?" She looked at me like I was completely stupid, then said sarcastically, "No, try one."
I like her! LOL!
I had her autograph a Walmart bag full of goodies that I'll give away later this week.

Me and Angie from A Whole Lotta Nothing

me and Amy from Mom Advice

Me and Liz from This Full House

Jean from Suave and me on top of The Wit

I can't believe I didn't get any pictures of me and Stephanie from Manic Mommy. Stephanie is awesome. I always thought Stephanie was a little crazy (and I still do, don't get me wrong!), but after rooming with her for a couple days, I can tell you she's so much more! First off, she doesn't snore and she likes to sleep late and that makes her a perfect roommate in my book. And Stephanie is so wonderful at making everyone feel welcome and at ease. At lunch every day, she'd sit down and start talking to a table full of strangers, asking them questions, and including everyone until they were all smiling and feeling like long lost friends. Wherever we went, she'd ask people their name - waiters, cab drivers, bell hops, everyone! And she'd remember them! I'm horrible, HORRIBLE with names and she reminded me again and again of blogger's names all weekend long. Not only that, but she talked until she learned the life story of every person she encountered. Sure, she "neighed" out the window of the cab as we passed a horse, and she was completely sober. Yes, she wore a purple wig one night. But let me tell ya, anyone who was fortunate enough to meet Steph this weekend, walked away with a smile on their face, I'm sure! Thanks for so much fun, Manic!

Friday, July 24, 2009

BlogHer - Part One

I'm having fun here at BlogHer in Chicago! Joe was a total sweetheart and drove me here in rush hour traffic so I didn't have to lug my big ole suitcase and my box of books on the train and I didn't have to drive myself and pay for parking. I had dinner at Cibo Matto Wednesday night with Michelle from Honest and Truly. It was really yummy.

Thursday, I went to the Ford: What Women Want event. I learned a ton of stuff and had a great time there. I'll write a separate blog post about that when I get home because there's too much information to share and I don't have enough time to talk about it all now. But I drove a car that parked itself. It parellel parked itself!!! ITSELF!

BlogHer is very overwhelming to me. There are some 1400 people here. It's crazy. It's loud. It's just overwhelming. I skipped the parties last night and went out to dinner with Lori, Esther, and Edwige from Johnson & Johnson. We had a great time at Vermillion and later, Vong's Thai Kitchen. Thank you guys! I so enjoyed your company!

Today I had my hair styled by Luke O'Connor from Lukaro's Salon. And I signed books at lunchtime. Well, I signed one book, anyway. Right now I'm chilling out with Stephanie from Manic Mommy while waiting to go to the Suave/Degree party tonight.

Here are some pics...

View of Navy Pier from my room

The view from my hotel room

Manic crashing

This was my bed when we first checked into the room. I'm not sure if they just never changed the sheets or if there's a dead body in there. I'm kinda afraid to look.

Ragu bottle made from all vegetables!

Me and Jenny from Jenny on the Spot (she's hilarious!) And see the glittery red sneakers at the top of her site? She has them. She wears them. They're fabulous.

Luke doing my hair

me looking all gorgeous in the latest in fashion accessories: the neon yellow safety vest, the polycarbonate safety goggles, and the headphones that let me hear the tour guide throughout the noisy Ford plant.

at Vermillion with the lovely Johnson and Johnson girls (Hi Amy V!)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Polly Pocket and the Pool of Destruction

Every time I go into the city, one of the kids gets hurt. It's a rule or something. I was downtown for an Adventures by Disney event the evening Lexi broke her arm. I got a call from the school nurse while on the train heading down for a luncheon. Lexi hurt her knee and Joe took her to the ER while I was downtown for dinner. I'm scheduled to leave for Chicago tomorrow evening, but just to keep me on my toes, Jackson didn't want to wait until I left. He got hurt tonight.

He climbed up onto Lexi's loft bed to bug her talk to her. She didn't like this and gave him a shove asked him to leave. He stumbled from the bed and landed in a pool. A Polly Pocket pool, that is. See exhibit A..

Lexi, Clay, Brooklyn, and Lexi's friend came running to me. "Jackson's hurt! Come quick! Jackson's bleeding! He's hurt!"

Being the awesome, caring, concerned mother I am, I said something along the lines of, "Is he really hurt or just crying because he scraped himself?"

"He's really hurt!" they chimed, all freaked-out-like.

I hurried to Lexi's room where Jackson lay, holding his foot, writhing in pain and screaming. Now, first you need to know that Jackson tends to be overly dramatic with injuries. A little skinned knee can elicit screams of horror movie proportions.

I took a look at his foot, after I pried his hands away, and saw a pretty deep gash. (Now this is where I make up for my deficiency in handling puke). I calmly said, "Hon, I need to take you to the hospital to have this looked at. I think you're going to need stitches. I probably shouldn't have mentioned "stitches" to Jackson who immediately started crying and freaking out. I calmed him down and assured him it would be ok. If he did end up needing stitches, they'd give him something to numb his foot and it would be fine.

Fast forward to the ER. We walked in (or more like I walked in and Jax hopped in on one foot) and the first person we saw was the mom of one of Jackson's best friends. She ushered us right into the ER where we were seen right away. On the way to our room we ran across Joe's cousin and the mom of another one of Jackson's friends. It was like a little reunion or something.

So they numbed it, cleaned it, and stitched it up and all the while Jackson screamed bloody murder. They didn't give him a shot to numb his foot and just relied on the cream to numb it enough for stitches. It didn't do the trick. Although with Jackson, it's hard to tell because he will scream like he's being brutally beaten simply because he sees a needle. A nurse came in and tried to distract him by asking him all sorts of questions. "Do you play sports? What sports do you play? What position do you play? What's your favorite team? Who's your favorite player? Are you a Cubs fan or a Sox fan? Do you know the routine "Who's on First"? And on and on and on. Meanwhile, Jackson's just screaming his head off and hyperventilating and sweating. At one point, I'm pretty sure I saw his head rotate 360 degrees. I was afraid he was going to projectile vomit pea soup at the poor nurse with the running questions if she didn't shut up.

Somehow they finished, and 6 stitches and a snazzy special shoe later, he was free to go. The only problem is he can't put weight on his foot right now. The cut was smack dab in the middle of the bottom of his foot. Ouchie. And the worst part is the "No swimming for 2 weeks" order.

OK, hopefully we're done for a while and no one else gets injured while I'm at BlogHer.

Monday, July 20, 2009

What Women Want

I'm gearing up to go to BlogHer this week. I'm trying to make it as easy as possible on Joe by making dinners ahead of time that he can just pop in the oven. Not that he can't manage to cook up something for dinner himself, but let's just say, he's more patient with the kids if he doesn't have any other demands on him at the same time.

I'm also trying to come up with stuff to wear. The depressingness of that could be an entire blog post unto itself.

And I'm searching through my closet to see if I own any close-toed shoes for when I get to tour the Ford assembly plant on Thursday. The name of this blogging event is What Women Want: Tech and Quality Event. Ford wants to know what we want in a vehicle. (Don't worry, I'm going to tell them that since we spend so much time in our vehicles, we absolutely need to have toilets and refrigerators standard.) But leave me a comment here and let me know what you look for in a vehicle. What do you want? I'd especially love to hear what other moms of large families want. Us larger families can't just go out and get any ole car. We have to make sure it seats the masses. In other words, we all drive the same white Chevy Express.

So, leave me a comment here and let me know what women want. In a car, that is. Don't go writing stuff like "a spouse who listens", "kids who clean their rooms without being threatened asked", or "more hours in the day". I need to have information to report to Ford so I'm not the only blogger there who's clueless. And just to make it a little more fun, I'll pick a random winner from the comments and they'll receive an autographed copy of my book, Because I Said So.

Nearly Sunday Sound Out

I probably should have stayed up late last night to do my Sunday Sound Out, because I've been interrupted 5, 692 times today!
Mom, I'm bored.
Can I have chocolate milk?
Can I ride my bike down the street?
I'm bored, Mom.
When can we leave for the birthday party?
Austin's bugging me.
Do I HAVE to clean my room?
I'm bored.
Can I have some crackers?
When are we going to leave?
Can we go bowling?
I'm bored.
Will you make me a peanut butter sandwich?
When are we going to go to the store?
What are we doing tomorrow?
Can we go to the pool?
Can I call Allyson?
I'm bored.
When are we going to leave?
Mom, can you wipe my butt?
Mom, can I have candy?
I'm bored.

And that was just in the first 30 minutes. Ugh.
Here, at long last, are the answer's to your questions...

How many bedrooms does your house have? And who shares bedrooms? Woud you share a picture of your house? Or the inside of th kitchen and living room. I love your blog and book btw!
Our house has 4 bedrooms. Austin has the smallest room to himself. Clay and Jackson share a room, and Lexi and Savannah share a room. Brooklyn still sleeps in our bedroom. I'm looking into redecorating the girls' room and moving Brooklyn in there this summer. As far as pictures go... Ummm, yeah, sure, let me just kick some of these toys out of the way. And vacuum. And dust. And, oh, for the love of God, what IS that under the couch?!!! Ummm, my ummm, my camera's broken. Yeah, that's it. It's broken. Sorry.

Lets talk dinner: How often do you cook dinner at home?
We eat dinner together almost every night. I usually do the cooking, but sometimes Joe does. I've been really lazy as of late, and have been making stuff like pasta and pancakes and hotdogs. What can I say? It's summer.

Do you have any picky eaters?
Define picky. Would you call it picky if all Brooklyn someone will eat is macaroni & cheese, ketchup, and chocolate milk?

Do you have any recipes you would like to share that the whole family enjoys?
I dunno. I'm no gourmet cook. I just make the usual kinda stuff, tacos, lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs, BBQ pork sandwiches, baked chicken, etc. We're not too fancy around here.

Two things: 1) I know it's been a while, but has Savannah hung out with that girl since the big clothing drama? 2) Have you ever thought about submitting some of your cakes to I bet they would qualify for the weekly Sweets spot....
Savannah hasn't seen that girl since the clothing drama.
My cakes wouldn't qualify for the Sweet Spot, but maybe they'd qualify for a wreck.

I'm just curious....Do you still keep up with Julian's Mom (I can't remember her name)? How is she doing dealing with the loss of her sweet kid?
I do still talk to Mimi now and then. In fact, we spoke just last week. I think she takes it one day at a time. It still feels like her heart was ripped out, but every day she gets out of bed and does what she can to make it through the day.

EWWWW! to the dead fish on a stick. Where did he find THAT at a baseball game?
The kid can find something gross pretty much anywhere we go. It's like there's a homing device...

Compare that hot dog to the sandwich that was there for two days and unrecognizable because it was real food....
I know! I was thinking the same thing! It's amazing what buttloads of preservatives can do to food. Makes you kinda wonder what they do to us.

O.K. Speaking of funny photos, would you please direct me to the one of the soap - with teeth marks?
You can see that picture
HERE. And this is that same bar of soap a couple days later -
And while I was searching for the soap pictures, I ran across this one...

The J. Peterman Underwear Hat
Some people simply have style. Perfect for swinging at the park, running in the backyard on a warm summer day, or wreaking havoc at the local grocery store. Red elastic waistband doesn't bind. Holes for air circulation. Soft cotton fabric for stylish comfort. Boys sizes 2T - 4T.
(not really a J. Peterman hat.)

LOL! Because I'm bored. Dawn, aren't you entertaining him? It's summer for goodness sakes!
The kids have been coming to me, bored, every day lately. Every time they tell me they're bored, I put on my cruise director hat and inform them of the activities I have planned. Things like, cleaning the bathroom, folding the laundry, dusting the shelves. For some reason, they don't find my planned activities fun.

My husband and I will be in Chicago for about 3-4 days around the U2 concert, and are wondering what are some of the "absolutely, have to see" sights? If you could let me know, either in your next Sunday sound out, or by email, that would be great.
For real? I have no idea what's in the city. I just saw Millennium Park for the first time last week. And I got lost while doing it. I am really the last person you want as a tour guide, I assure you.

It really was a regatta gala!! how funny!
I love anyone who gets a Friends reference! :D

Sears Tower name has been changed - check out today's Chicago Tribune:
"Sears Tower name change: Building today officially becomes Willis Tower"
Whatever. It's still the Sears Tower. Comisky is still Comisky and the Rosemont is still the Rosemont, no matter what they decide to call them.

Dawn, Dawn, Dawn... how can you get lost from Millennium Park to the train station - either one of them?! Granted, Union Station is slightly more of a straight shot than Ogilvie, but still, hon... *shakes head* Love you, though!
I got lost dropping off a Girl Scout cookie order form 3 blocks from my house once. Understand? And in my defense, I didn't start walking toward the train station. I just started wandering around the city, thinking that I'd just grab a cab when I got bored walking and he'd take me to the train station. When I realized that cabs weren't just lined up and down every street and I'd actually have to step out and flag one down, I decided I'd rather walk the whole way. By then, it was no longer a straight shot to the station. Sooo, I put "train station" in my phone and got directions. I started walking. Eventually, I hit Union Station. I knew that Ogilvie was just a couple blocks away, but I wasn't sure which way. Somewhere along the way, I'd accidentally deleted the map app from my phone. I have no idea....
Anyway, I couldn't seem to pull up a map and find out which way Ogilvie was. I gave up on making the train and resigned myself to making the next train, so I stopped in a Dunkin' Donuts to get an iced coconut coffee mmmm, and get directions. I got the coffee and the guy behind the counter laughed at me and said something about silly suburbanites. He directed me to go in the opposite direction from what I thought it was. And you know what? I actually made that train that I thought I was going to miss. And with 27 seconds to spare!

Did you ever, in the early days, struggle with the SAHM/working dad division of labor?
No, we really didn't. We fell into our roles easily in the early days. Joe worked, I stayed home, and it was all fine. As time went on, he worked more and more (he put in 80 hours in a typical week) and I did everything at home. He came home to sleep and that was pretty much it. It was hard on both of us because neither of us ever got a break. However, we were both ok with our roles. We did what we had to do.
However, now things have shifted a bit and Joe works a 40 hour week and I try to work from home. We're struggling with the division of housework and childcare now. I think Joe has a hard time seeing what I do as work, since I don't leave the house. He's willing to pick up the slack as far as housework goes, but it usually comes with a little guilt trip that I'm not able to do everything anymore. He doesn't make me feel guilty on purpose or anything. And I think I haven't been patient with him as he's struggling to figure out his role now. It's just an adjustment and we're still both trying to work things out so we're both involved and no one feels taken for granted or unfairly overloaded.

Almost, But Not Quite, Sunday Sound Out

I started working on my Sunday Sound Out, but started to nod off. My head hit my computer and I ended up writing this answer to someone's question:


Instead of making you suffer through the indecipherable nonsense I was typing with my forehead, I decided to call it a night and get some sleep. Check back in tomorrow for Sunday, er, um Monday Sound Out.

I'm tired because I spent the weekend driving back and forth to Savannah's softball tournament. I calculated the distance and figured that I drove over 220 miles. I believe I sat on my butt on either the bleachers or in my car for about 18 hours. Clearly, I have reason to be exhausted. You think the girls who played hard for 6 straight games are tired? It's the parents who are tired!

They took second place for the tournament and played really well all weekend. They only lost one game and it was to a full-time travel team. And they lost by a respectable 11-8. I wish I had a picture of Savannah stealing home and sliding across the plate just under the tag, but of course, I didn't have my camera out for that. I guess this action shot of her striking out will have to do.

And now for some much needed sleep. Check back in tomorrow for the sound out. Goodnight all!

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Wow, I received more hate mail than I can count this week because of a post I wrote earlier this week. People, people, people... sigh

Judging by the mail I received, there were many of you who misinterpreted my post, so let me waste my time clarify here. What I said was - "Listening is important in a marriage. When one spouse doesn't listen, it can make the other spouse feel bad. If communication breaks down, it's a bad thing." I also suggested crazy, off-the-wall things like, "Make sure there aren't distractions when you talk to your husband, and stay on topic instead of cluttering the conversation with a lot of words, and write things down." At the end of the post, I tried to let the reader know that it goes both ways. I wrote about husbands simply because I don't have a wife. I have a husband and my experience is with him.

I did not say, "Joe is a horrible, evil person." In fact, I said nothing specifically about Joe at all. But if you want to know, Joe is a pretty bad listener. Everyone has things they're good at. Everyone has things they need to work at. Joe can fix pretty much anything. He puts Handy Manny to shame. He's a terrible listener. Me? I have problems with procrastination and putting unrealistic expectations on people (among many other things.) So what? I did not say, "Be disrespectful to your husband," or "treat your husband like a child." I said, "It's frustrating when your husband acts like a child and listens to you as well as your children do."

As always, if you don't like a particular post or someone's entire blog, YOU DON'T HAVE TO READ IT. I think some people simply don't understand this. Unless someone is forcing you, at gunpoint (and I've never heard of anyone ever actually forcing a person to read at gunpoint. I mean really, what would be the point? That would be a pretty embarrassing reason to go to jail - because you held a gun to someone's head and made them read.) As I was saying, unless you're being forced to read the blog post, you can just click that little red X in the top right corner of your screen and voila, the page will disappear. It's almost like magic!

Oh and to the guy who wrote, "You shouldn't be mean to Joe because he LETS you go to blogging events and he babysits for you," do you have any idea how ludicrous that is? That's like saying I LET Joe go to work and I babysit for him while he's there. Sorry, but there's no babysitting involved when IT'S YOUR OWN KIDS!

OK? Does everybody understand now? Can we go on with our regularly scheduled blogging? Very good.

So, the other day, I ended up with 10 kids at my house. I'm not sure how this happened, but I had 4 girls and 6 boys at once. I wrote, in my book, about the differences between boys and girls and how I believe them to be absolutely innate. This was proven to me once again the other day. While the girls painted their nails, the boys ran around the yard like hyenas with ADD. When I loaded the kids in the car, the girls sang along to the radio. The boys, on the other hand, complained about having to sit next to icky girls.

One of the boys, John, announced that he wanted to "toughen up" his arms and asked his buddy, Cal to punch him in the arm until we got all the way to Tim's house. For 10 minutes, this is what I heard, "punch, punch, punch, ow, punch, punch, ow, punch, ow, punch, punch, ow." What possesses a person to do this? What??? Can you even imagine a girl asking her friend to punch her in the arm for 10 minutes straight? After I dropped off the boys, one of the girls rolled her eyes and said, "Boys are stupid." After the whole arm-punching incident, I had a hard time choking back my laughter defending my son and his friends.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sailing, Takes me Away...

As a thank you for hosting some giveaways and blogging about Lands' End products (which I honestly love), Amanda from Lands' End invited me, Kim from Hormone Colored Days, and Lisa from My Thoughts, Ideas and Ramblings to take a little sail around Lake Michigan today. (Lands' End is a sponsor and participant in this year's Race to Mackinac.) I'd never even heard of The Race to Mackinac before this month and now I'm so excited about it, I'm thinking of heading downtown to see the boats off on Saturday! If anyone's interested, you can follow the race HERE.

(from left to right)
me, Randy, Lisa, Kim



Navy Pier

Anyway, we climbed aboard their boat, Guaranteed. Period. (named after Lands' End's guarantee; not some form of birth control) where Randy, one of six crew members who will be racing this weekend, taught us a little bit about sailing. Wow! How fun! I'd never been sailing before but I LOVE water and I love boats so naturally, I loved sailing! Randy even let me steer the boat for quite a while. I didn't do too badly either. Well, except for the time when he said, "You have to tell me if you're going to tack."

"Tack? Um, I'm not sure what that is, but I just had a brain malfunction and forgot for a minute that you have to move the steering thingy to the left if you want to go right. Oops." It was a beautiful, windy day so Randy just had the jib (little sail at the front) raised while we were out so thankfully I didn't knock anyone off the boat with my little, um, sudden, uh, mistake turn.

After a very enjoyable cruise out on the lake, we headed to shore where we had lunch outside at the yacht club. We just couldn't have asked for nicer weather. And after waking up to thunderstorms, it was a pleasant surprise.

From the lake, I started toward the train station, but realized there was no way I'd make the 2:30 train, so instead, I walked to Millennium Park. The new Millennium Park has been there for like 10 years and yet I still hadn't seen it. It was time.

the bean

Then I walked 5000 2 miles to the train station. The wrong train station. Yeah, because that's the kind of thing I do. Want to know why I walked? Because I was afraid to hail a cab Because I needed the exercise. And it would've been a mile and a quarter except I had to get lost take the scenic route.

I've put more than 50 other pictures up on Flickr. If you want to check them out, you can click

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Running Away From Home

I remember, as a kid, getting angry at my parents and making up my mind to run away from home. I don't think I ever got further than the end of my street, but, at the time, I had big plans to get away.

Today Clay decided to run away from home. He packed up the wagon with a basketball, a little stool and his bike and started to take off. Sure, he'd only have the bathing suit on his body to wear until he got a job, made some money, and could go shopping for new clothes. Yeah, he'd have nothing to eat until he ran across a lemonade stand where the kids might take pity on him and give him a free cup of juice. Or maybe he'd find some "gently used" gum on the sidewalk in his travels that would hold him over until, again, he got a job and could afford food.

But he was all set as far as sports-like activities to keep him occupied. He could ride his bike. He could play basketball. If extreme loneliness set in, he could draw a face on the basketball, name him Spalding, and call him his friend. Or if he was a little tired, he could whip out the stool, kick back and watch some other folks play sports. The wagon would be perfect for sleeping. If it was too sunny or rainy out, he could turn the wagon upside down and hunker down beneath it. Clearly, he had all the bases covered.

I didn't think Clay was mad at me. I couldn't remember yelling at him or doing anything that would have prompted his exodus. When I asked him, "Clay, why are you running away?" he answered simply, "Because I'm bored."
"Ohhh. You're bored, huh? Well, where are you going to go?"
"To Jaina's house."
"You think it'll be more fun to live at your friend's house?"
"Yes. But I wish I knew how to get there," he lamented.
"Do you think Jaina's family will let you live there forever?"
"Yeah, but it would be better to go to Disney World. How do you get to Florida?"
"Well, Clay, you walk down our street and turn left when you get to the end..."
"Which way is left?" he interrupted.
"That way," I pointed the direction. "Then you want to go down, oh, 3 or 4 blocks and make a right. Then you just keep walking that way for eight and a half months."
"Mom, it would take 30 days to walk to Florida."
"Oh sorry. My bad," I relented. "So, Clay, what would you eat while you were running away from home?"
"Sticks and stuff."
"Where would you sleep?"
"In the grass."
"What if it was raining?"
"Then I'd sleep in a bush."
"I see. Do you think you'd miss us?"
"OK then. It sounds like you've got it all figured out. Carry on, Clay, carry on."

By the way, he's still here and is wondering what's for dinner. Should I serve him a plate of sticks?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Effective Listening 101

"I think it's hilarious that two little boys cannot hear me when I'm yelling at them from two feet away, yet when I whisper the word "cake" they come running from two backyards over...."
~ quote from my friend Julie McCord

I think the second most common cause of divorce is failure to listen. The first reason, of course, is improper loading of the dishwasher, but that's another blog post. I think that 100% of all kids and 99.9% of all men have listening problems. (I want to remain hopeful that perhaps somewhere exists a man or two who know how to listen.) The thing is, we expect this with our kids...

"Don't take food out of the kitchen."
"Don't eat in the family room. Keep it in the kitchen!"
"Oh," said in complete surprise as if the child has never heard this rule before.
"Don't you ever listen to me? I tell you every day not to take food out of the kitchen!"
"Huh? Did you say something, Mom?"


But having to go through this routine with our spouses just does us in. I don't know about anyone else, but I already have 6 kids. I don't need a seventh. I have this wacky notion that my spouse, since he's technically an adult, should be able to listen better than the 5 year old. Call me crazy.

Seriously, I've been trying to pinpoint the exact point in the breakdown of our communication because listening is quite an involved process. One not only has to have the ability to actually hear the words, but they need to be able to comprehend and process the information once it's heard. Then they have to remember said information. And heaven forbid, they have to make a decision based on the given knowledge. There are a lot of places where communication can go awry.

The problem that happens when your spouse doesn't listen to you, aside from the fact that your kid could be left sitting at the baseball diamond because someone didn't realize someone was supposed to pick him up, or (even worse) someone could pick up the wrong flavor ice cream at the store because someone didn't hear you when you said butter pecan, is that you start to feel worthless. When the person who is supposed to love you, can't listen to you and remember what you've said, you start to feel like you're not worth listening to which is not a good thing.

"The first duty of love is to listen."
~ Paul Tillich

But never fear. I'm nothing if not helpful, therefore I've pinpointed some areas where listening breaks down and I've compiled a list of useful ideas you can use to help your spouse with his listening skills.

The Wife's Guide to Effective Listening

1. Too Many Distractions: Make sure there are no distractions around while talking to your spouse. They can't be expected to listen if the game is on tv. Or if an infomercial about some new car-care gadget is on. Or if scantily-clad girls are on. Or if Family Guy is on. Or if a fuzzy screen of just snow is on. Basically, you just want to turn the tv off.

If you have kids, try to find some space away from them for a little while. HA! Ok, after reading that one, I couldn't stop laughing. Oh, that was funny! Let's try that again, shall we? Get a babysitter and go out. I would suggest waiting until the kids have gone to bed, but most men I know hit a kind of vegetative state by the time the kids turn in. I know many men who have perfected the attentive stare even though they're actually, technically asleep. You don't want to try and communicate when they reach this state. If you're unsure if they're awake and attentive or about to start snoring, look for signs of telltale drool at the corner of their mouths.

2. The Message is Too Complex: You want to make sure you're not talking above your spouse. Don't use fancy words with more than 2 syllables. Always have less than 3 points you'd like to make. Don't switch topics on your spouse.

"It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn't use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like "What about lunch?"
~Winnie the Pooh

3. Body Language Gets Misinterpreted: For the most part, men do not "get" body language. Hands on your hips, arms folded across your chest means nothing to the menfolk. You would think that was a pretty sure-fire sign of displeasure. You would think. However, imagine this scenario: You use very obvious (to us) body language like, for example, smacking your spouse upside the head. What does he reply with? A dumbfounded, "What was that for???" Don't expect them to get the visual clues. Just skip the body language altogether.

4. Their Mind Wanders Away From Conversation: Sometimes a guy's mind just starts to drift away from the conversation. Unfortunately there's not a whole lot you can do for this one. You could be talking about how you'd like him to take out the trash before it overflows onto the floor or before mice take up residence in the garbage can, but since this is essentially a boring conversation to him, his mind will likely wander to things like how many games the Bears will win this season, or a joke that his coworker told him 15 hours ago and the punchline that's just sinking in, or the fact that he can see a good 2 inches of cleavage thanks to the shirt you're wearing. I would suggest wearing non-revealing clothing, but their minds are still capable of wandering and imagining what color bra you're wearing and if you're wearing a thong...

Still, it's a good idea to raise your volume significantly every couple minutes to make sure he's still listening/reacting to your voice. Maybe even shout out some nonsense just to see if he's paying attention. ", please take out the garbage CHICKEN NUGGET! when it starts to get to the top..." Or perhaps, like I do with my attention-challenged children, you might want to say, "Look at me" every few minutes to make sure their focus remains on the conversation.

5. Forgetting the Conversation Minutes Later: Sometimes your spouse is completely focused on you; they're paying attention and they're listening and understanding what you say. And then, an hour later, the conversation flies out of their brain. I suggest you write down important points you've made. Don't expect them to remember to pick up the dry cleaning on the way home tomorrow. Write it down for them. Yes, there's a good chance they'll still forget, but if you've written it down, you'll have more ammunition when you accuse him of not listening later. "I even wrote it down for you!!!"

Oh crap. OK, I might have maybe, slightly, a little bit, not heard Joe while I was writing this. I might possibly have asked him a question he might have conceivably just answered. Now, I'm not admitting to anything here, but I guess, perhaps, just maybe, if you're a guy, you can use these tips to help your wife enhance her listening skills too. You know, if, entirely hypothetically of course, your wife has some of these listening problems challenges.

That is all.

"If speaking is silver, then listening is gold."
~Turkish Proverb

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Some pics

I was clearing my memory card from my camera and my phone and found a couple pictures I'd like to share.

Cool, huh? I managed to catch this rainbow on my camera phone!

This is what a hotdog looks like after it has sat in your son's room for a decade couple weeks.

Hey Mom! Look! We made dinner! Mud pies! Where did we get the mud? Oh, we just dug up the flowers, Mom. :)

Even in these trying economic times, air is still free.

Dictionary entry: Redundant

As lovely as that is, it's not really fishing, Jackson, if you just stab an already dead fish with a stick.

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