Thursday, May 26, 2011

Teaching Your Tween Responsibility so They Don't Have to Cross-Dress

“Oh my gosh! You are so irresponsible!  You’re almost THIRTEEN years old! If I wasn’t around to remind you, you’d probably forget to wipe your butt! Grrrrrrr!!!”

What prompted this outpouring of frustrated rage from me, you ask? Let’s back up a few days to a previous conversation between me and Jackson. A conversation that went like this . . .

“Hey Jackson, do you have your band uniform for your concert next week? Make sure you have a shirt, pants, and your black shoes and make sure they all fit so I’ll have time to get you new ones if they don’t.”

“I have it,” said Jackson while still glued to the TV.

“Are you sure? Make sure everything still fits. Go now. Try it on and make sure.”

“I’m sure!” he said. Upon seeing my dubious expression, he reiterated. “Really, I have my uniform!”

Fast forward to 4:30 this afternoon.

“Moooom, I don’t have black pants!” Jackson whined in a panic.
“Hmmm, that’s so strange. I wonder what happened to them. You had everything you needed last week when I asked you to check.”  (I knew darn well nothing had happened to his clothes, and that he’d never actually checked to make sure he had everything he needed. I just needed to buy a little time so I could calm down and come up with a solution because at the moment, my plan was to rip off his arms and beat him with them.)

“Mooooom, what am I going to do?!” he continued to whine.
I suggested he call some friends to see if they had pants he could borrow. No dice. He cried that his friends didn’t have black pants. 
“What do you want me to do about it now? You have to be there at 5:00. Do you think I can run to the store and back and get you there in twenty minutes?!”

Jackson continued to freak out because despite the fact that I’m bulletproof, I have not mastered the art of turning back time, and I was pretty sure I couldn’t run to the store at the speed of light. And I continued to refrain from knocking him into next week.

He ran out to the garage and started searching through the piles of clothes that were arranged for my upcoming garage sale. Jackson found a pair of pants that were a couple sizes too big for him. He held them up to him while running past me to change. “Those are HUGE, Jackson! And they’re girls’ pants!”

Mistake. Big mistake. I should’ve just let him put on the girls’ pants and wrapped a belt around him to hold them up. He’d look like a female clown, sure, but at least he’d get to his concert on time. And maybe going to his concert in girls’ pants would teach him a lesson in responsibility. But nooooo, I had to point out that they were girl pants. Smart move, Mom.

After hearing they were girls’ pants, Jackson went back to freaking out and running around the garage while rifling through the stacks of clothes. I joined him and finally found the suit that Austin wore to my sister’s wedding several years ago. I grabbed the pants. They were black. They were boys’ pants. They fit. Well, they sort of fit. Okay, Jackson looked like Urkel (especially with the white socks he was wearing). I couldn’t look at him without hearing, “Did I do that?” But beggars can’t be choosers and they were better than the several-sizes-too-big, girls’ pants.

“We’ve only got a couple minutes to get you there. Change your socks and put on black ones, then put on your shoes and get in the car,” I instructed.

“I don’t have black shoes,” he cried some more.

“You have GOT to be kidding me!” My head exploded.

I think that brings us up to speed. And now you understand the opening conversation. I found some black tennis shoes in the garage, thrust them toward Jackson, reminded him to get his drumsticks, and stomped out to the car. He whined that he needed dress shoes.

“Brooklyn has some dress shoes you can wear,” I suggested helpfully.

He was less than amused. He whined a few times that the shoes were too small and he’d be in trouble because he wasn’t allowed to wear tennis shoes. “And I’m going to be embarrassed!” he blubbered.

I replied in the immortal words of Clayton, “Sucks to be you.”

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Then the Doctor Said the "C" Word

(I know this picture has nothing to do with diverticulitis, but it's so much more pleasant than a picture of a colon.)

I woke up in pain on Saturday.  I immediately recognized the lower abdominal pain as something I’d experienced before.  I knew, even though I hoped I was wrong, that it was diverticulitis again.  My plan for dealing with the pain was to ignore it until it went away.  That’s my M.O.  My first course of treatment for anything that ails me is ignore it.  It usually sometimes pretty much never works.  But I do it anyway. 

This morning, I had visions of my large intestine becoming so infected that I would need to be hospitalized.  At first I thought it would be a nightmare, but that gave way to fantasy about lying in bed all day with people bringing me my meals while I did nothing more strenuous than change the channel on the TV.  I’m sure the nurse would never run into my room, shrieking that everyone had eaten all the macaroni and cheese, forcing her to declare her undying hatred of her brothers and sisters.  I snapped back to reality when I remembered that I had no one to take over for me.  No one could step in and take care of my kids and everything else while I lounged in the hospital.  And really, there is no resting or relaxing in a hospital.  Ever.  Between the annoying roommates, noisy hallways, announcements over the PA system, and the nurses who must take your vitals every twenty minutes, it’d be easier to get rest lying in the middle of the Kennedy during rush hour.

Despite my fears about infection ravaging my intestines, I still hesitated going to the doctor.  You see, I had diverticulitis in August.  You can read all about that fun-filled ER trip here. (Really, go read it.  It’s funny.  I’ll wait.  I’ll even sing showtunes while you read.  Wait!  Where are you going?  Okay, okay, I’ll stop singing!  You’re back?  See, I told you it was funny.) 

Anyway, in August, the treatment for me was a clear liquid diet for two weeks and high doses of two different antibiotics.  Strong antibiotics taken on a stomach that only contains gingerale, water, Jello, or chicken broth at any given time, made me want to vomit every minute I was awake.  So, for most of the day today, I went back and forth.  Horrific infection, endless nausea, horrific infection, endless nausea, horrific infection, endless nausea.  Horrific infection won out and I headed to the ER with Brooklyn while the others were at school. 

I walked in, told the triage nurse that I’d already diagnosed myself and knew that I had diverticulitis.  Apparently, they don’t like it when you do that. They like to let the people with the medical training diagnose you. She gave me a cup for a urine specimen.  Brooklyn was fascinated with the concept of peeing in a cup. I made a mental note to check for cups lying around in the bathroom when I got home. I waited through half an episode of Barney and two Word World episodes before I was called back to a bed in a hallway. Brooklyn and I played “Find a word that starts with [insert letter]. Pee was the most popular word (said at least ten times) for the letter P, by the way.

We were called to a room where a nurse started an IV. Or tried to anyway. When a nurse says, “Oops, I blew your vein”, and your hand puffs up to boxing glove size while blood spurts everywhere, it’s generally not a good sign. There was so much blood all over, she made me get up so she could change the sheets. Honestly, my hand hurts far worse than my tummy tonight. After that, the doctor came in, blah, blah, blah, went for a CT scan, ended up waiting because a trauma patient was rushed in for a head-to-toe scan, freaked out that it was time to get my kids from school and I had no signal on my cell phone and was waiting in the hallway for my CT with no way to call the school or friends. Thankfully, I was able to get a text through to one friend (THANK YOU, MARTI!)  And thank you to everyone else whose offers of help I finally saw after I left the hospital! I also got messages from my mortgage guy that I’d inadvertently forgotten to sign a couple documents, the high school, a couple friends, a couple kids, and my realtor up here who wants to show my house tomorrow morning, oh joy!  

I played achoo which is a game Brooklyn made up wherein her baby doll sneezes a thousand times in a row and the only thing that can cure her is putting headphones on her so she can listen to music. Who knew?

Finally, the doctor came in and confirmed my original diagnosis of diverticulitis, but then added another, bonus possibility of cancer.  I need to get a colonoscopy as soon as this bout of diverticulitis is cleared up. If I’m super-lucky, maybe I’ll get surgery and a poop bag! In the meantime, I’m finishing up day three of the liquid diet I started when I first woke up with the pain, and I’m taking the evil antibiotics that will no doubt end in a killer yeast infection. On the bright side, this is a fabulous way to lose a lot of weight in a short amount of time.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday Sound Out

From Chicago, the town that rhymes with . . . well, it rhymes with . . . um, well there's . . . Okay, apparently Chicago doesn't rhyme with anything. Anyway, it's your host, the woman who was not taken away in the rapture this weekend, Dawn Damalas Meehan.

One good decorating tip – put in the house what you like. What interests you, what colors, etc.
Hmmm, really? You think? Because I was kinda set on putting a bunch of crap I hated in my house.
Kidding. But I honestly don't know what style I like. I have no taste. I'm inept at decorating. I don't even know what I like.

You got the house you put an offer on?
Yep! Well, the seller accepted my offer anyway. The inspection's tomorrow and as long as all the financing stuff goes through, it'll be mine next month. Here's a picture of my new kitchen! I love it SO much!

This is what my kitchen looks like now.

And I still can't get over the fact that this house is twice the size of my current one for significantly less. It blows my mind!

The same thing happened to me; one day I woke up and my daughter was turning 9!!! Where does the time go??
Well, maybe the time is going faster than it needs to go because you're skipping ahead years. Or maybe it's just me who does that. A couple days ago, I was talking to Savannah about her upcoming birthday. I asked her, "You're not expecting a big sweet sixteen MTVish party this year, are you?"
She looked at me a minute, raised eyebrow, then slowly answered, "Noooo."
It took me a few more minutes before I realized that I'm an idiot. Savannah's turning fifteen this week, not sixteen. Of course she isn't expecting a sweet sixteen party this year. Duh. Chalk up another one for yours truly, aka: mother-of-the-year.

On a lighter note….how the heck are you, being the eternal night owl…ever going to drag your fanny out of bed to gt to work at the school next fall?!
My goal is to change the entire Florida school system so that the schools won't start until noon or so. I think it's gonna work. I have a good feeling about it.

Are you feeling any better today?
I woke up yesterday in pain. It's the same pain I had back in August when I was diagnosed with diverticulitis. The pain's a little worse today and I'm positive it's the same thing again, but I'm putting off going to the hospital because I know the cure (liquid diet, strong antibiotics that make me sick, and possibly surgery) is yucky. I'm going with the "ignore it and it'll go away" theory right now. Besides, I do NOT have time be sick now. Thanks for asking.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Top Ten Things to do Before the World Ends

I started thinking about all the crazies people running around, sure that the world is going to end tomorrow, and I laughed. I personally don’t care when the world ends. I figure I won’t have to clean my house anymore, so it’s all good in my book. However, it got me thinking. If God whispered in your ear and gave you a little inside information on the scheduled apocalypse, what would you do with your last day on earth? I’ve made up a top ten list for this very reason. I don’t want anyone missing out on any pre-rapture fun, so I’m generously sharing with you. Enjoy!

10. Change your answering machine message to, “You’ve reached [insert name]. I can’t answer the phone because I’ve been taken away in the rapture. If you’re calling me, apparently you were left behind. Hahahahahaha! I mean, ahem, repent and be saved.

9. Run with scissors.

8. Eat a last meal of deep-fried butter sticks, chicken-fried lard, sugar-coated pixie sticks, and chocolate-covered Twinkies. Wash it down with a bottle of rum. Cholesterol schmesterol, you’ll be long gone before your arteries completely close.

7. Don’t separate your whites, delicates, and darks when doing laundry. Heck, don’t do laundry at all! Let it all pile up. The unsaved looters can worry about washing it.

6. Play REM’s It’s the End of the World as We Know It over a loudspeaker as you drive around town, warning people.

5. Tell your boss he’s an idiot and you’d rather work for a baboon than him. Then walk out the door (after stealing a stapler or something).

4. Go to a furniture store and remove all the tags from the mattresses while laughing maniacally. The laughing part is optional, but it really adds to the fun.

3. Streak around the bases at a Cubs game. It’ll be the most exciting thing that happens on the field all year.

2. Check into a fancy hotel and empty the mini bar. Call housekeeping and ask for more toilet paper every five minutes. Every time she brings another roll, indicate the bathroom and say, “Whew! You do NOT want to go in there! Those $20 macadamia nuts and $10 mini bottles of vodka did a number on my colon!”

1. Hire a hitman to kill your ex. What? You’re just saving the heathen from a painful visit from the four horsemen of the apocalypse. It’s a mercy thing. Really.

***Not responsible for the consequences of these actions if, for some strange reason, the crackpots are wrong, and the world doesn’t actually end tomorrow.***

Ask and You Shall Receive

The other day, I was having lunch with Savannah after her doctor’s appointment. We were talking about the move and the new house. I mentioned how I have no taste. I can’t decorate. I want my new house to look nice, but I have no idea how to go about designing it. I don’t know how to put colors and accents together. I don’t even know how to arrange furniture in a way that makes sense. Savannah told me, “You need a gay friend, Mom.”

Yeah, yeah, I know that’s stereotyping, but I agreed with her.  I decided that I totally do need a gay friend! Or someone who has taste and isn’t completely inept at designing rooms. And maybe when he’s done fixing my house, he can work on my wardrobe.
Not five minutes after Savannah said that, I got an email from a friend. This friend is the brother of one of my very best friends from high school, Erica, who, with her husband, died tragically, and much, much too young. This friend is gay. This friend lives about 15 minutes from my new house! How awesome is that?!

I lived with my high school friend, Erica, for some time. We were total slobs back then. We paid her brother to clean and cook for us. He was terrific! One time, he and I were cleaning out our fridge. We cleaned out a bowl filled with nasty, old cookie dough. And by “cleaned it”, I mean, we took spoonfuls of cookie dough and flung them off the balcony. More than one glob stuck to the neighbor’s house. We about fell over laughing at the time! (Yes, I was a total punk as a teenager.) There are probably still cookie dough stains on the siding now, over 20 years later.  I’m laughing all over again just remembering my friend’s face as he turned red, laughing!

When I told him what Savannah had said and how funny the timing was, he admitted that he’d gone back to school a few years ago to get a degree in interior design! LOL! It’s great! And not only that, but his (and my late friend, Erica’s) mom lives in Florida not too far from me also! I can’t wait to see them!

And, and, and, a couple who attended my church here in Chicagoland retired to Florida and invited us to attend their church there which is only a few minutes from our house. It’s the same church that one of my readers invited us to attend.

I just love how I keep finding more and more friends who live near my new house. Next on the list – someone willing to clean up puke. And fix stuff.

I mean no offense to people who are gay.  Or interior designers.  Or plumbers.  Plumbers really have nothing to do with this story, butt (get it?) I want to cover all bases. You know, in case I make a crack (get it?) about plumbers in the future. Hoo hoo ha ha ha, oh boy . . .  Um, I think it’s time for my meds.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The One in Which I Cry

My baby graduated from preschool yesterday.  I was so proud because she’s mastered the preschool curriculum of cutting along a squiggly line, writing her name, and making “pizzas” out of clay.  She’s brilliant!  She knows her colors, shapes, and ABCs.  She’s ready for kindergarten.  Her mom is not.

I was fine when Austin graduated from preschool.  I was fine when Savannah graduated from preschool.  I was fine when Jackson, Lexington, and Clayton graduated from preschool.  But this one hit me.  She’s my baby.  She’s the last of my kids to go to preschool.  And now she’s a big kid.  A sense of sadness hit me, knowing that I’ll never set foot in that preschool again.  I’ll never go to another Halloween party there.  I’ll never have candy cane punch after doing the S-A-N-T-A dance with my child. 

Every milestone Brooklyn has met has hit me hard.  The last time I nursed her, the last time I strapped her in her infant car seat, the last time I changed a diaper (well, maybe not so much that one), and the last time she let me pick out her clothes have all left me a little weepy. 

As I listened to the kids singing the same graduation songs that all six of my kids have sung, I couldn’t stop the sting of tears.  The woman sitting next to me saw me welling up.  I stammered, “There’s something in my eye, allergies, my contact, um, there’s something in my eye.”  She looked askance at me, but went back to videotaping the program. 

I think it hit me even harder because we’re moving far away next month.  Not only will Brooklyn not be in preschool next year, but she won’t be with any of the friends she’s made this year.  I won’t see any of the same teachers or parents around town.  I watched the kids sing, and at some point, the lyrics of their cute little songs about sunshine and rainbows were replaced with, “Is this the little girl I carried?”  Tears overflowed and streamed down my cheeks as I heard Tevye sing Sunrise, Sunset.  People looked at me like I was insane since the kids were actually singing a song about ice cream sodas and strawberry tarts.  Not really the kind of stuff that brings tears to one’s eyes.

People have always told me, “Enjoy this time because it goes by so fast!”  I thought I enjoyed my time when my older kids were young, but looking back, I can hardly remember those milestones with them.  I can hardly remember when they were babies.  (Of course, I can hardly remember what I had for lunch today so that’s not saying too much.  I oftentimes worry that I’ll have Alzheimer’s by the time I’m fifty.)  Anyway, I’m afraid I spent so much time wrapped up in the moment that I sometimes forgot to step back and just soak it in.  And now it’s too late.  I can’t go back and relive any events.  I can’t rewind the clock and revel in every crazy, messy, frustrating moment.

So, the advice I want to give to all you new moms out there is to enjoy every moment because time goes by so quickly!  But I know you’ll all be so wrapped up in the moment that you’ll forget to step back and just enjoy.  I don’t think there’s any way to completely avoid that.  So, my real-life advice to you is to take a lot of pictures and videotape so you can relive those moments when your memory fails you.

Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

That's not a Toe; it's a Carrot!

I know I’ve been slacking off on the whole “blogging every day” thing. Ever since Savannah’s surgery two weeks ago, I’ve been getting up early to drive her to school. Oh yeah, I let Austin come along too. Although it would be pretty fun to make him run alongside the van as I speed up and then slow down as if to let him in, only to speed up again as he reaches the door, all while laughing maniacally. I’m really not inherently evil, but I figure this would be good payback for all the bruises on my arm thanks to the larger than average VW Beetle population around here and Austin’s need to punch me every time he sees one.

Anyway, getting up so early is doing me in. I’m drinking coffee and Coke nonstop. I hook up an IV drip of sugar-frosted caffeine around 3:00 every day. But still, when 11:00 PM rolls around, my brain turns off, my eyes glaze over, and I usually drool a bit. Charming, I know. I’m only getting up about an hour earlier than usual, yet I’m passing out asleep nearly four hours earlier. How is this possible?

I tried exercising because people say that gives you energy. People lie. Exercising makes you tired. And sore. And very angry at thin people who preach the merits of exercise. I tried taking a vitamin B supplement. It didn’t give me more energy, but it did turn my pee a pretty neon yellow which made me wonder, for several days, if I had some exotic pee disease.

I truly don’t understand how morning people survive. I feel tired and out-of-it all day. I firmly believe people are programmed as morning or night people and it’s just wrong and cruel to take them out of their natural element. It makes us all floopy. And some people would contend it makes us not-so-pleasant to be around as well. Ahem.

Back to Savannah’s knee and my reason for getting up with the stupid birds.

Yesterday, we met with Savannah’s surgeon, and his partner whose specialty is knee reconstruction. She needs to be on crutches with no weight bearing for at least another four weeks at which point she’ll have another post-op check. We have a choice for her treatment plan. She can go along, letting her knee heal, and take her chances that she’ll be pain-free despite the sizeable divot in her knee. Or she can opt to have surgery where a matching piece of cadaver cartilage will be screwed into the hole in her knee. However, the odds of this surgery being successful with the donor cartilage adhering to Savannah’s knee isn’t much higher than 50%. And if it doesn’t work, she’ll need yet another surgery to remove the loose piece again. Since trying to screw her own, live, loose piece of cartilage on last year didn’t work, I don’t feel too optimistic that screwing on a dead piece of cadaver cartilage would work. And either choice we make comes with a good chance she’ll develop arthritis in that knee. Overall, it was discouraging. I feel awful for Savannah who is stuck on crutches for several more weeks, and I feel even worse that there isn’t a magic cure for her.  I’m afraid she won’t be able to compete in her sports and that she’ll have pain and problems with that knee forever.

Although she almost managed to get herself a wheelchair for the next few weeks when she dropped a knife on her right foot and sliced her toe tonight.  It hadn’t stopped bleeding after half an hour, so I drove her to the ER, thinking she might need stitches. When we pulled into the parking lot, it finally stopped, so I just stuck a butterfly followed by a Phineas and Ferb bandage on it.  It could have been worse. The knife could have severed her toe and I could have messed up and instead of bringing her toe to the hospital to be reattached, I could’ve brought a carrot. (I may watch a little too much Friends.)

Friday, May 13, 2011

You Know You're at a 5-Star Hotel When . . .

When I booked the airfare for my house-hunting trip to Florida, I had the option of adding a hotel stay for a cheaper overall price. Since it was just for me and I wasn’t going for a luxury vacation, I opted for a room that was inexpensive and between the airport and the realtor’s office. Well, it wasn’t the Bates Motel, but . . .

When I arrived, I checked in with the guy at the front desk who was friendly and efficient. I walked up to my room which smelled a little musty and was a little warm, but I honestly didn’t care because I was so tired thanks to my delayed flight and plane ride from hell sitting next to Frank the Flatulant. So, I threw on jammies, washed my face, and wait a minute, why is the sink filled? The sink isn’t draining. At all. Ugh. I was too lazy to get dressed and ask for a room change so I decided to deal with it tomorrow. I crashed (after checking under the bed and in the closet for ax murderers and dead bodies, of course).

The next morning, the sink was still filled. I looked a little more closely and realized it wasn’t so much clogged as the stopper was just broken and wouldn’t stay up. I decided I didn’t care about that enough to switch rooms. I went about my day – breakfast, looking at houses, lunch with my realtors, then back to my hotel for a little R & R. As I entered the lobby, the fire alarm went off. Then it stopped. Then it sounded again. Then it stopped. Then again. And again. And again. I returned to my room where this notice had been shoved under my door.
008 300x200 You Know Youre at a 5 Star Hotel When . . .
Let me translate for you.

Dear Sucker Who Booked Your Stay at our Hotel,
We’re going to be sounding the fire alarms (all 4000 of them) every minute for over an hour today. Good luck taking a nap, relaxing, or basically trying to keep your heart rate from jumping through the roof every sixty seconds. Oh yeah, and you might want to invest in a pair of earplugs. We have some Mickey Mouse ones in our gift shop for $39.99 plus tax. We knew about this test a month ago, but didn’t want to lose business, so we didn’t disclose this information to you when you booked your stay.

the management

P.S.  If you smell smoke, you might want to evacuate just in case a real fire breaks out during our test.

P.P.S.  Don’t bother looking around for firemen either. Just keep walking. This means you, Dawn.

At some point in the afternoon, the incessant ringing stopped.  Either that or I finally went deaf so I didn’t notice the alarms anymore. I got ready and went out for dinner with a good friend of mine from high school. She dropped me off at my hotel late last night. She pulled her car up to the lobby. I got out and started for the entrance when the guy behind the desk said, “Be careful if you come through this way.  There’s a snake inside the door there.”
084 300x200 You Know Youre at a 5 Star Hotel When . . .
Oh. My. Gosh.

I think this was the point, I decided that not only was there no way I would move to this horrible, snake-filled state, but I wasn’t waiting around for my return flight either, and I started walking home to Chicago where we only have squirrels and pigeons who might occasionally try to peck your eyes out, but never ever inject you with venom.

I couldn’t sleep last night because I was convinced my room was crawling with snakes. I mean, look at that thing! It totally blends in with the luggage rack! It could be covered with snakes and no one would know! The whole place could be crawling with them! I sat up in bed, the lights on, and a Bible (thank you, Gideons) in hand that I could throw at anything that slithered. I don’t ordinarily treat Bibles with such disrespect, but I think God would understand. In fact, think how things might be if Eve had just chucked a copy of the Good Book at the snake!

Then today, I noticed this sheet on the desk.
007 300x200 You Know Youre at a 5 Star Hotel When . . .
I love how they’ve worded this.  “Due to the popularity of our guest items…” That’s the nice way of saying, “Don’t steal our cheap, used stuff. If you do, we’ll charge you 10 times the replacement price.” I was pretty bummed when I saw the list because I was totally going to steal the shower head until I saw the price. Since I can pick one up at Lowes for $20, I decided to do that instead of using the wrenches I’d packed for this very reason, and removing the old shower head that was covered with the calcium and lime deposits.

And $50 for the hair dryer? Really? Here’s the dryer . . .
011 200x300 You Know Youre at a 5 Star Hotel When . . .
Let me reference the size of the dryer for you . . .
012 200x300 You Know Youre at a 5 Star Hotel When . . .
It’s smaller than my hand. Brooklyn blowing out birthday candles has more power than that dryer!

The sad thing is, you just know there’s some fool who’s going to steal the couch, or garbage can, or coffee maker, or curtains, and he’ll claim that he thought they were free for the taking since they weren’t on the list. Although, I do have to wonder how much they’d charge if I peeled off a strip of that snazzy wallpaper to use in my new house . . .

ADDENDUM: No sooner did I publish this post, than I got up to go take a shower. Before I even set foot in the bathroom, I noticed that it was flooded. The sprinkler was leaking and there was standing water on the floor. Fed up, I called down to the front desk. Three times. Letting it ring for a couple minutes each time. No one bothered to answer. So I marched down there and waited in line for 15 minutes. The young girl behind the counter told me there was no manager there and in fact, she was the only one working at all. One person seems adequate to handle all check-ins, phone calls, requests, and complaints, don’t you think?

I mentioned my string of complaints and when I got to “snake in the lobby”, the man standing in line behind me freaked out. He was a big, 6 foot tall dude and he started babbling, “Snakes?! I don’t like snakes! Where’s a snake?! I don’t like snakes!” all while his eyes darted here and there, fully expecting a snake to do some ninja sneak-attack move on him.

She said the only thing she could do was move me to another room if I wanted. If I wanted??? No, I want to swim to the toilet! Yes, move me! I think I’ll be having a little meeting with the manager tomorrow.

UPDATE: I spoke with a manager who offered me a disinterested apology. Then he turned around and charged me $40 for a late check-out. Now, I understand that things happen. I won’t judge an entire chain of hotels by the experiences and inconveniences of one stay. However, the lack of customer service and willingness to make amends for the things that happened is inexcusable and that’s what has lost them a customer.

LAST UPDATE: Apparently, I’m an idiot and did not actually talk to a manager. The actual manager did apologize and refund my $40 late check-in fee which made me much happier.

Monday, May 9, 2011


I’m not sure if it’s laziness, or a strong sense of faith, but I’ve become very relaxed in my old age. (I’m going with the strong faith option because it sounds better.) I should be more stressed out than I am. But I’m not. I should be worried that my house won’t sell. But I’m not. I should be worried that I won’t find a new house within my price range. But I’m not. I should be worried that something will happen and my job opportunity will fall through and I’ll have moved across the country for no reason. But I’m not. I should be worried that Jackson and Brooklyn just ran inside, grabbed a box of baking soda, an empty bottle, and their bathing suits before running back out. But I’m . . . well, actually, I am a little worried about that one.

But really, I just don’t worry about stuff much anymore. I don’t spend hours praying for what I want because I’ve learned that I don’t have a clue about what I need. Once upon a time, I would have prayed and hoped and wished upon a star for this house I saw online. And then I’d go to Florida to check it out in person, but the day before I arrived, the owners would accept a bid put in by another buyer. Then I’d be devastated and I’d question God. “Why, oh why, God? This house was perfect for me! It was in my price range! It had all the features I was looking for in a house. After everything we’ve been through the past couple years, why couldn’t you let me have this house?! Why?”

But then you know what would happen? A couple weeks after I lost out on my dream house, I’d find another house that was bigger, newer, cheaper and had a brand new washer and dryer! And a horrible freak accident would cause a fire that burned out of control and engulfed that first house I’d so desperately wanted. That house about which I’d questioned God’s plan. Oh yeah, and that new house I got? Well, it sits next door to a fireman who’s a widower and just happens to love kids.

Okay, so maybe that’s oddly specific, but still, this is why I don’t worry about stuff.  Because every time I do, I end up feeling like an idiot, worrying for no reason. I firmly believe God’s got it under control and I have no clue, so why waste the time and energy worrying? He’s got a plan and it’s better than anything I could dream up anyway. And it may not make sense to me now. It may not make sense to me in a year. I may not even understand it in this lifetime. But that’s okay. For a basically lazy person like me, the let go and relax method works well. It’s all good. Things have a way of working out.

That said, wish me luck because I’m going to Florida to do some marathon house-hunting this week. Unfortunately, the MLS listings online don’t specify if the houses are located next to hot, single men. They really should. 

P.S.  Is it just me or does everyone else have that Frankie Goes to Hollywood song in their head too?  If you didn’t before, you probably do now after reading that last sentence, huh?  You’re welcome.

Happy Mother's Day!

I had a fabulous Mother’s Day. My kids made me homemade cards. Brooklyn painted a wooden pin for me in preschool. Lexi and Clay brought me flowers they’d planted in school, and Clay made me a dandelion bracelet. It was a gorgeous, 70-degree day and I sat my butt down outside and enjoyed the weather with my kids for a couple hours. 

The kids offered to wash my car. I was thrilled because there’s so much disgustingness in there, I’m afraid a family of squirrels has taken up residence in the third row. You probably think I’m joking. But I’m scared. I just know I’ll be driving along one day when, much like the squirrel that leapt from the tree onto Clark in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, a squirrel is going to fly out from the back of my van and land on my head, causing me to swerve across several lanes of traffic while I scream like a little girl. I’ll slam on my brakes in the middle of the intersection and stumble from my car while running in circles, freaking out about the squirrel on my head. If my kids hadn’t cleaned out my van today, I have no doubt you’d be able to see footage of my squirrel incident on the news this week because it was only a matter of time until it actually happened.

So they dragged the vacuum cleaner outside and left it there. They pulled all the hockey, softball, and baseball equipment out of the back while cleaning up the garbage, but conveniently forgot to return the sports bags back to my car. They plopped the bag of garbage on the ground in my front yard. They slathered soap on my vehicle and then got bored before rinsing it off. But, on the bright side, I think they scared all the woodland critters out of my van. I guess you’ll know for sure if you don’t see me on the news doing a squirrels-in-my-pants dance in the middle of a busy intersection this week.

And finally, just to illustrate my point on the differences between boys and girls, they made some chalk drawings on the driveway . . .
085 200x300 Happy Mothers Day!
086 200x300 Happy Mothers Day!
088 300x200 Happy Mothers Day!
Can you tell which drawings are Brooklyn’s and which one is Clay’s?

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!  :)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sunday Sound Out

From Chicago, the town that tastes better with caramel (said carmel, not caramel because we're not pretentious) sauce, it's your host, the woman who received the most glamorous accessory for Mother's Day - the dandelion bracelet, Dawn Damalas Meehan!

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there! And happy Mother's Day to all the mom-like women! And prayers for all the women who are trying to conceive, and to all the women who have lost a mother. And now, it's time to answer viewer mail!

Dawn, is it no possible to get some kind of court order that he is not allowed within a million yards of Jackson?
Possibly, but the courts are big on visitation rights, and I don't have the money to take him to court and prove that he's unbalanced. And by the time I could get a court date, we'll be moving. The kids have a few more weeks of dealing with drop-by-dad until we move. It'll be okay.

How does he know when they have games?
I tell him and beg him to show up. Just kidding. All you have to do is look online to get the schedule.

One of your readers had a great idea about a POSTER over the hole. After all, how big could a little 12 yr old’s fist be?
Ha! I wish I'd taken a picture of it but I was too mad at the time. I put a piece of duct tape over the hole and then thrust a bucket of drywall patch goop stuff and a bucket of paint at Jackson with the instructions, "Fix it!"
I came back several minutes later and saw a huge, drippy glob of blue-painted spackle smeared across a five-foot wide circle on the wall. I guess I should've been more specific in my directions. Or, better yet, I should've thought of the poster plan!

do you think Savannah could swim? That would be easy on her joint and bones but still get her moving and exercising.
Yep! Savannah loves to swim (and she's good at it too) We'd already talked about having her join the swim team for those exact reasons. She had her surgery on Wednesday. It went well. The doctor had to take out the piece of her knee that was peeling away. It was a pretty big piece (about an inch by 3/4 inch). We meet with him and his collegue who specializes more in knee replacements next week. She's not happy about needing crutches again. Anyone who would like to send her a cheer up card, can mail it here -
Savannah Meehan
836 S. Arlington Heights Rd.
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007

It’s okay to say life sucks. It really is. Every once in awhile you have to put your hand up and say enough! Momma needs a time out.
But I don't think life sucks. Sometimes, the situation sucks, but life is what you make of it.

I remember you saying you were coming to FL. Right now its Love bug season, it happens twice a year and they are very attracted to white (I did not know any of this when we moved here last year) so heads up and google it…
Thanks! Not thanks for the head's up about Love Bugs (whatever they are), but thanks for putting a Jonas Brothers' song in my head!

I don’t know where this idea that we’re supposed to do everything for our kids came from, but frankly i’m shocked when I read parents say things like, I don’t go to everyone one of my kids games. Is that really expected? My parents had 2 daughters, only one of us in a sport and my parents maybe went to 2-3 of my swim meets a season and that was normal. Sure there were some parents that went to more, but they were the unusual ones.
I don't do everything for my kids, but I can count on less than one hand how many of my kids' games that I've missed. I only missed one football game last season because I was out of town. I can't imagine not wanting to attend your children's games, concerts, and events. That, in my opinion, is not doing stuff for them; it's being involved in their lives.

Did you try it [the slide out the window] before ordering them to take it apart?
Oh yeah, I can just see that scene unfold in the emergency room. "Well, Mrs. Meehan, you seem to have broken your butt. How did this happen?"

Orlando is cheaper than here??? I guess I haven’t been paying attention because I thought you were going to NC.
Oh heck yeah. You go a couple hours away from Chicagoland in any direction and housing prices drop. I'm looking at houses that are twice the size and half the price, no joke. And nope, we're not moving to NC, but we did vacation there last summer.

Well look at it this way….instant fire escape route?? Oh come on, you know eventually Clay is going to microwave something that is going to cause the need for immediate escape and what better way to leave then down a slide :)
Hmmm, good point. {{{{{flashback to Clay's egg cooking experience}}}}}

What did you do for Mother's Day?
I did the same stuff I do every day, but I did it while wearing a glamorous dandelion bracelet and I did it in sunny, 70 degre weather so it was a good day!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Pass the Puffs

Sometimes, you just gotta cry.

Most days, I go with the flow, looking at the bright side of things because, let’s face it, it’s way more fun to laugh than to dissolve into a puddle of tears, right?

And then there are days like today.

My ex has started showing up at my kids’ baseball/softball/hockey games lately. Not all of them; just now and then. He doesn’t stay for the whole game; just stops by and puts in an appearance. It’s a Hey, look at me, I’m a dad! act. Perhaps he’s only allowed to stay for half an hour because his dad drives him to the kids’ games and I’m pretty sure his dad doesn’t want to stick around that long. He doesn’t get out of his truck and do so much as say hi to his grandkids so I can understand his boredom. Then again, he really didn’t talk to or interact with my kids before the divorce either. But my ex has to be driven by his parents because after you’ve gotten three DUIs, the state doesn’t generally let you keep your license.

Anyway, my ex doesn’t sit in the bleachers and watch with the rest of the parents. Nope, he walks onto the field as if he’s a coach and proceeds to shout instructions to my kids. My kids have always hated that even back when we were married. It embarrasses them and makes them lose their concentration. When they complain to me about this, I suggest they ask their dad to stop making comments, but they won’t say boo to him. I understand why they don’t talk to him, but I feel bad being stuck in the middle, unable to get their dad to listen to anything.

Now, every time my ex crawls out from under his rock and sees Jackson, Jackson’s temper comes back in full swing. Jackson had been doing wonderfully since getting out of the hospital. He hadn’t seen Joe and hadn’t talked to him on the phone and things were going really well. Today, after one of Joe’s Let me stop by and pretend to be a dad for half an hour visits, Jackson came home, picked a fight with Lexi for no apparent reason, punched her, broke his drumsticks, and put a hole in his bedroom wall.

I lost it. I was beyond angry. For one thing, it’s taken me a LOT of hard work to get this house ready to sell. I don’t want to patch any more holes! But it mostly made me angry because I’m here every day! I’m the one taking care of him! I’m the one paying for everything! I’m the one making sure he does his homework! I’m the one shopping for his needs! I’m the one making dinner! I’m the one doing everything! Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. I like taking care of my kids. In fact, it’s my favorite thing in the world! And I’d certainly rather be doing everything on my own than to be dealing with my ex’s issues. However, it makes me so mad when my ex swoops in without a care or responsibility in the world, and I have to deal with the ensuing fallout. I have to take the brunt of Jackson’s anger; the anger the only comes out when he has contact with his dad. It’s not fair to me and it’s certainly not fair to Jackson.

He cried. I cried. Then we took big, deep breaths.

After talking with Jackson, he settled down and went to bed. That’s when I started painting the ceiling. My living room ceiling is connected to the hallway which is connected to the dining room which is connected to the kitchen. I had to paint it all at once. It was the last thing on my list and I’d been putting it off because I hate painting more than I hate Vegemite, if that’s possible. 

However, my realtor called today to set up a showing for tomorrow, so I wanted to get it done before then. Just as I was finishing up and looking forward to showering the paint out of my hair and resting my aching neck, back, and shoulders, Savannah broke down and cried. And cried. And cried.

She’d taken the fact that she needed surgery so well, but it all hit her today. She went without sports for SIX months last year because of her knee surgery. That’s a long time for an athlete. She spent months on crutches. She spent even more time in pain. And now she’s having to do it all over again just one year later. And she knows that this isn’t even the end of it. She knows she’ll need at least one more reconstructive surgery. She’s angry. She’s in pain. And it isn’t fair. It just isn’t fair.

I want to end this post on a high note because that’s what I do. I find the funny.  I’m good at seeing the lighter side.  But I’m also human and right now, at 2:00 in the morning, I’m not finding the funny.  I want my ex to crawl back under his rock. I want Jackson to get back to that place where he’d moved on and was doing well.  I want to take away Savannah’s pain and make her knee all magically better. I guess what I really want is some sleep so I can wake up in the right frame of mind once more.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


My life is a triage. According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of triage is: the sorting of and allocation of treatment to patients and especially battle and disaster victims according to a system of priorities designed to maximize the number of survivors.

I don’t like the whole “maximizing the number of survivors” part. I mean, I hate to think that if I make the wrong choice in attending to my children, some may not survive. That’s pretty extreme.  But really, this is how I feel most days. I can’t help one with their homework, get a snack for another, drive another to their ball game, help another find their shoes, get medicine for yet another, and help the last one get the carrot out of his nose all at the same time. I feel like I’m always trying to figure out who needs the most attention immediately and who can wait a bit. Then I reassess and make sure I haven’t shoved the same kid on the back burner too many times. I want to make sure I ignore each kid equally.

I usually do pretty well taking care of the kids who need it the most while delegating tasks to the others, and for the most part, I’ve been able to banish the accompanying guilt. I know that I may not make it to every single game my kids play because two or three of them often have games on the same night. But, I get to at least one of their games every night and I arrange rides so each child can get to where they need to be even if I can’t drive them.

I may not be able to help each child with their homework, but I make sure one of the older kids can give the younger ones a hand. And it almost never has anything to do with the fact that I don’t understand the little ones’ math homework.

I may not be able to complete the laundry, make dinner, wash the dishes, and sweep the floor every day, but I can assign chores to the kids and/or let it slide now and then.

And I don’t carry around the guilt (too much) because my inability to be everywhere at once/do everything for everyone has taught my kids responsibility. They’re learning how to care for themselves and one another. They know that families help each other. Learning these skills and becoming self-sufficient is a necessity in a large family. It’s not a bad thing when older siblings help care for younger ones. It’s not a bad thing when kids learn how to get along and compromise and help each other. It’s not bad to learn the value of work. And this fact was driven home the other day when I went to Jackson’s conference at school. I talked to his life skills (home ec) teacher and got the report that Jackson already knows what she’s teaching. I remember when Austin and Savannah were in that same class a couple years ago. They both came home from school, incredulous that their classmates didn’t know how to do laundry, or make cookies or bagel pizzas, or sew on a button.

So I’m hereby giving you permission to drop the guilt of not being able to do everything. Instead, feel good that you’re teaching your kids to be self-sufficient. (Otherwise I’ll have to feel guilty and I’m tired of feeling guilty about everything.)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Chutes and Ladders

“Guys, get dressed for baseball and hockey!” I called to the kids as I walked through the house, picking up all the junk they leave lying around. You can’t really blame them for leaving wrappers and junk on the floor since we have no garbage cans in the house. And it’s no wonder they leave their dirty socks on the couch or under the kitchen table since we have no laundry baskets. Of course it makes perfect sense that they pile their dirty dishes all over the counter tops since the dishwasher is glued shut and can’t be opened. And since no one has a dresser or closet, it only stands to reason that they toss their clean, folded laundry on the floor.

Anyway, I made my rounds, cleaning up after my kids. Apparently that’s what I do. I yell at them all day to pick up their stuff and then I give up and pick it up myself while stomping around and muttering under my breath about how I live with swine. Yes, it’s effective parenting at it’s best. In my defense, by dinnertime I’m tired. And I’m sick of hearing my own voice. And it’s just easier to do it myself. Okay, okay, I’m just a terrible parent.

So I picked up junk while the kids looked for their uniforms, socks, cups, and hats that are never where they belong because, as we discussed, we have no dressers in this house. Except for Jackson, that is. He stood guard near his bedroom and instructed me, “Don’t go in there.” (Translation for new parents: Go in there immediately and be prepared to be totally freaked out by a family of opossum nesting in your child’s bed, green Ghostbuster’s slime dripping from the ceiling, a mural drawn on the walls with permanent marker, or if you’re really lucky, a combination thereof.)

I pushed past Jackson, opened the bedroom door and witnessed an interesting scene. As a mom of six very industrious (Translation: CRAZY) kids, I generally feel confident that I’ve seen pretty much everything.

I was wrong.

Jackson had rearranged the furniture, moving his non-existent dresser under the window. The window that was wide open. Outside the window, the slide that had been unscrewed and removed from the playset was propped against the house. The kids had been taking turns scaling the bunkbeds, dropping onto the dresser, climbing out the window, and flying down the precariously perched slide.
003 picnik 300x200 Chutes and Ladders
I maintained a sense of calm as I questioned the kids about their latest um, experiment. “What on God’s green earth were you guys thinking?!!! Seriously, how do you come up with this stuff?! Did you really think this was a good idea? Tell me! How do you think up these ideas?! How, how, HOW??? Why?! You’re killing me! KILLING ME!

005 picnik 200x300 Chutes and Ladders
Someone tell me that my kids are creative and will be brilliant, well-adjusted adults, and not hoodlums.  Please?  Someone?  Anyone?  Although, in the game of Chutes and Ladders, it’s the rotten kids who use the slides . . .

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sunday Sound Out

From Chicago, where it snows in April, it's your host, the woman who got a whole eight hours of sleep (in the past seven days combined), Dawn Damalas Meehan! And now, it's time for viewer mail.

Your house looks great.. hey I have a brother in Orlando.. Hmmmmm????
If he can fix stuff and/or clean up puke, send him my way!

Plant the works!
I cannot believe the hundreds of people who have emailed me/commented on Facebook that I should plant a statue of St. Joseph in my yard in order to sell my house. Oh, and apparently I can't just plant it in my yard. Oh no, there are very specific instructions for planting this statue. I need to bury it upside down, facing the house. And this is suppose to ensure my house sells. Call me crazy, but I just don't think a mud-covered statue is going to sell my house. I'm banking on the "clean up your house and price it right" method of house-selling.

I remember those days…not too fondly! Glad you seem to enjoy sleepovers!
Oh heck no, I don't especially like sleepovers! But my kids like them and they've only got a couple months to hang out with their friends before we move so I'm making every effort to let them spend time with their friends now.

That is great about the orthopedist. Are there OR charges, anesthesiologist, whatever? It seems like everyone and their brother charges me. I just don’t want you to get caught with your pants down, so to speak.
Oh yeah, of course there will be other charges, but the hospital accepts our insurance and since our orthopedist said he'd take it too, it'll be okay. She had an MRI on Friday and the doctor called me himself to tell me that she would indeed need surgery and it doesn't look like the piece of bone/cartilage will be able to be reattached again. It'll have to be removed which means another surgery in the future to insert some donor cartilage. Surgery's on Wednesday and prayers are appreciated!

Also, is there some non-sporting activity Savannah could do? So she could still feel like she was involved in something? A community choir, band, orchestra, community theater, ….? There’s got to be some other interest she can follow while sports are off the table.
Maybe, but I don't think she wants to get involved in something here when we're moving in two months.

Can we send this guy (orthopedist) a thank-you card on your behalf??
Um, sure. And if anyone would like to send Savannah a card, you can mail it here -

Savannah Meehan
836 S. Arlington Heights Rd.
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007

How on earth do you do it? I'm a single mom of only two kids and my ex-husband is involved, takes them every other weekend, pays child support, helps drive them to soccer, etc. I'm not selling my house or moving across the country or writing blogs and books or dealing with car repairs and surgeries and I can hardly keep up. Seriously, how do you do it?
I don't know. I wake up, tackle as much as I can of my to-do list, thank God for the good stuff, take a deep breath and take a minute to enjoy my kids, pass out in bed, then wake up 4 or 5 hours later and do it all over again. What else can you do? It may be hard, but there's a lot of good in my situation too. I focus on that. I could be bummed that Savannah needs another surgery and I'll have yet another stack of medical bills that my ex will never contribute to, or I can be thankful that the doctor will accept my state insurance so Savannah can get the surgery she needs. I could be bummed that we have to move to a cheaper area, or I could be thankful that I'm able to get a less expensive place in a nice, warm area with endless possibilities.

Don't get me wrong, I venture into the Oh woe is me side now and then, but I spend almost all my time on the Glass is half-full side. Who wants to be depressed about things over which they have no control? Not me. I let that stuff go and work my butt off on the things I can change. It's all good. Although I could totally go for a little more sleep!

My good blogging friends, Janice and Susan, over at 5 Minutes For Mom are hosting a giveaway for two $500 gift cards for Walmart. Even I (a self-professed Walmart-hater) would love a $500 gift card! Who wouldn't, right? All you have to do is leave them a comment with your funny or creepy bug story. Visit HERE for all the details, but hurry because the contest ends on Tuesday!

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