Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Walk Down Main Street USA

I live near the cutest little town ever. I've been wanting to walk around in the town center and take pictures for some time and I finally got around to it this weekend. I'm no professional photographer, but I enjoy taking pictures. I think I got some decent ones to represent this adorable town. I could probably go back a dozen more times and get new, completely different photos each time.

There are several restaurants, many with outdoor seating. There's an old fashioned barber shop and soda fountain, and I'm in love with the used bookstore. Every Friday night there's live music in the square and there's a farmer's market every Saturday. Nearly every month, some special event, festival, or car show takes place in town. On any given evening, you can see couples strolling hand in hand, seniors relaxing in the swings, watching people walk by, and kids enjoying ice cream cones and splashing in the fountains. I could sit, basking in the balmy air, hair fluttering in the breeze, a smile of contentment on my face while watching people and creating stories about their lives in my head every night. Heaven!


Monday, March 26, 2012

The Revolution!

I was recently contacted by a casting director for ABC's The Revolution hosted by Project Runway's Tim Gunn and Extreme Makeover's Ty Pennington. She's looking for inspirational, relatable moms who have 50-100 lbs. to lose.

I immediately nominated myself as a potential candidate. I'm a relatable mom and I definitely have weight to lose. I would love to be a part of this show! Of course, with Ty Pennington hosting it, I'd love to be part of the show even if it was about moms who like to wrestle alligators. What? He's easy on the eyes!

Anyway, if you're interested in applying to be on the show or if you know someone who might be, you can go here to check out the details. If you think I would be a good fit for the show, you can show your support by leaving me a comment here.

Oh, you'll need to upload a full-length picture of yourself. I seriously didn't have any pictures like that because people aren't allowed to take full-length shots of me and if they do, I crop or delete them right away. How nice would it be to let myself be photographed without having to crop out everything but my head?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

If You Like Piña Coladas

I recently asked my Facebook friends how to meet guys. Several of my them mentioned online dating sites like eHarmony and I thought about it for a bit and decided Why not? I mean, meeting someone online and getting to know them through email correspondence instead of endless bad first dates actually sounds like a good plan to me. I figured I could weed out some of the weirdos by a quick glance at their profiles, right?

Men who say they don't like kids can be eliminated right away. Anyone who lists collecting snakes as a hobby, or doing math problems as a favorite leisure time activity can be immediately discounted. And, this may sound shallow, but any man with a profile picture that makes him look like a sociopathic ax murderer can be removed from the pool of possible matches. Don't ask me what a sociopathic ax murderer looks like, but anyone with a maniacal smile and oh say, a bloody ax, (along with men who have their mothers or their cats in their pictures) would probably fit that bill.

So I went ahead and signed up for eHarmony. Well, when you first sign up, you have to answer 15,000 questions. There are questions about your level of education, income, height, religion, what are your personality traits, what are you looking for in a partner. There are a ton of questions designed to help you find a good match promote lying. For example, how would you answer this question?

My house is -
A. spotless; even my dust is organized
B. pretty clean and organized
C. a complete disaster
If you answer with A, you’re a controlling, obsessive, type A person. If you answer with C, you’re basically saying you need a backhoe and a hazmat suit to get in your front door.

It will take you a good hour to fill out the entire questionnaire. Or, at least, it should take you that long. If you’re impatient and tend to rush through things, you might make some grave mistakes on your profile. I’m not admitting anything, but if you rush through the questions, you might inadvertently miss something really important. Ahem.

So I finished the sign-up process (or so I thought), but then came a whole new section filled with open-ended questions. By the time I finished that, I was sick of the lame questions and started answering inquiries like, “What are you looking for in a person?” with the lyrics to Rupert Holme’s Escape. No joke. I really did. I figure they’ll either get it and appreciate my humor or they’ll be relegated to my discard pile because if a guy doesn’t laugh at my jokes, then there’s obviously something wrong with him.

I received sixteen matches the first day. Excitedly, I started checking them out. Ten of those were over 60 years old. They had grandkids older than my children! I thought – eHarmony sucks! What kind of genius thought it would be good to pair me with a 62 year old grandpa??? (I’m 42, by-the-way)

I mentioned this to a friend who informed me that I’m the idiot. I must not have taken the time to accurately fill in the box that asked, “What age range are you willing to date?” This is why you really want to make sure you have a good hour of uninterrupted time when you’re not about to fall asleep in order to complete the whole sign-up process. Trust me.

Check back here to read the latest in awkward dating posts.

Friday, March 23, 2012

A New Way to Have GoodNites

As you know, I work with Goodnites to help inform parents and answer their questions about bedwetting. Once upon a time, I dealt with bedwetting and the problems associated with it. At that time I didn't have all the facts and made some poor decisions in regards to bedwetting which is why I'm now so passionate about helping parents to understand bedwetting and to cope with it.

Goodnites now has a great alternative to disposable underwear! Goodnites disposable bed mats! These amazingly absorbant pads can be placed on your child's bed by peeling off the adhesive backing and sticking it to the sheet. It'll stay put all night without getting scrunched up. And it provides all the protection you've come to trust from Goodnites disposable underwear without the stigma of "wearing a diaper" that some kids resent. Occasionally I have a parent write to me that their child is such a heavy wetter that they saturate the Goodnite underwear. This bed mat in combination with the disposable underwear would save a lot of laundry and interrupted sleep for those individuals, ensuring your child does indeed have a good night. I have three packages of Goodnites new bed mats to give away! Read on for details!

Here's a little demonstration I did using a small square sample of the Goodnites bed mat and a whole lotta water!

Peel the adhesive backing off the bed mat and press in place.


"Night, Mom!"

I put TEN droppers full of water on the mat! I colored the water blue so I could see if it leaked through to the bed.

Super absorbant!

I easily peeled the mat off the bed. Boy was it FULL!

There wasn't a single drop of moisture on the bed!

"Yay! I slept all through the night! Thanks, Mom!"

I have three packs of new Goodnites Bed Mats to give away to three readers! Just leave me a comment here and I'll choose three random winners on Friday, March 30. Good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor!

For more information on bedwetting, please visit for a wealth of articles on all things bedwetting!

Monday, March 19, 2012

What If . . .

My students are masters at procrastination. I consider myself a professional procrastinator, but these guys have raised ‘putting off until tomorrow what can be done today’ to an art form! One of their favorite methods for putting off work is what I’ve come to refer to as the “What If” game. It goes something like this . . .

“Randy, did you finish your vocabulary sentences yet?”’

“No, Ms. Meehan. What if the president didn’t want any body guards? Could he do that? Could he go places by himself?”

“I’m sure the president would never consider going around without bodyguards.”

“But what if he did?” my student insisted.

“Nope, he can’t go without bodyguards,” I stated confidently.

“But he’s the president. Can’t he do whatever he wants?”

“Are your sentences done yet? No? Back to work.” I admonished, attempting to get him back on track.

Then, from another corner of the room, Carter asked, “Ms. Meehan?”


“What if you were stung by a hundred bees?”

“It would hurt, but not as much as bringing home a D in math is going to hurt. Now finish that test.”

“But what if the school was filled with bees?”

“You’d still have to take your math test.”

Finally finishing his second sentence, Randy piped up again, “What if dogs could fly, Ms. Meehan?”

Joining in the conversation, Carter inquired, “What if birds could fly?”

“Birds can fly! Now get back to work!”

A few minutes went by before Randy’s ADD kicked in again. “What if a meteor hits the earth?”

“I’d get out of cooking dinner tonight,” I answered drily.

“No, really Ms. Meehan! What would happen?”

Before I could tell him to get back to work yet again, Carter joined in, “What if the ocean was filled with pudding? How long would it take to eat all that?”

“You guys are very creative, now get back to work!”

A few minutes pass. Then, “What if a meteor hits the earth? Really? Would everyone die?”

Sigh. “I’ve got one for you. What if you guys finish all your work before the bell rings?”

“You’d have a heart attack, Ms. Meehan?”

“Yes, I probably would.”

And that is how the “What If” game is played. Every day. Day after day after day after day after day. You’re jealous, aren’t you?

* Names have been changed to protect the innocent and the lazy.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Almost Home

I ran some errands with Austin today. As we were driving around, I asked him the same question I’ve been asking him for the past nine months. “Given the chance, would you want to move back to Chicago?” Today, for the first time, he answered, “Nah, it’s fine here.” And I believed him.

I worried about Austin and Savannah the most when we relocated.  Being in high school, I knew it would be a tough adjustment for them.  But when we first moved, Savannah jumped right in and made friends immediately.  You can plunk that girl down anywhere and she’ll adjust, make friends, and fit right in.  Austin has always been more introverted, unsure of himself, and slow to make friends.  However, this weekend, Austin met some kids at the movies.  He’s starting to settle in and think of Florida as home.

You can’t believe how good those words made me feel!  Austin was the last one of my kids to get acclimated here (not that the others don’t stuggle with homesickness now and then).  But now that he says, he’s fine here, I found myself breathing a sigh of relief.  I hadn’t noticed I’d been holding my breath for months, but suddenly, I exhaled and relaxed against the back of my driver’s seat.  Maybe it won’t be long until we’re saying Florida is home instead of things like, “I can’t wait until we go back home to visit,” referring to Chicagoland as home.

I started thinking.  I’ve been on my own with the kids now for nearly two-and-a-half years.  Two and a half years!  I’m doing it on my own.  Maybe not perfectly, but I’m doing it.  I know it sounds like I’m bragging.  I’m not.  It’s hard to explain the mix of emotions I feel.  I’ve been on pins and needles for so long, waiting for everything to fall apart; worrying that one day I’d screw up everything, or run out of money, or have a total mental breakdown.  Yet, at the same time, I seem to have developed a small sense of pride.  Well, it’s a bit of pride mixed in with an underlying fear that everything could be yanked away at any minute.  There’s a definite sense of accomplishment in there somewhere though.

I glanced over at Austin as I drove away from the store.  “I can’t believe we’ve been on our own for almost two-and-a-half years,” I commented.  “I can’t believe we’ve made it this long.”

“And you did it with six kids, Mom,” he affirmed, his voice laced something akin to pride.

Yeah, yeah, I have.  Smiling, I turned the corner and headed toward home.

*****Edited 3/19/2012*****

As I reread what I’d written last night, I realized I’d left out an important piece of information. When I wrote that I was doing it on my own, I meant without the help of a spouse. But I haven’t been entirely on my own. I’ve had the support of friends and family. And I’ve always had God by my side. Whenever things have looked bleak, He has lifted me up. When I would have an exceptionally bad day, suddenly I’d get a phone call or a card from a loved one that brightened my spirits. Whenever I’ve thought I was going to drown in financial obligations, out of nowhere I’d be offered a job that paid just what I needed to get by another month. I don’t think all these things simply happen. I believe they’re orchestrated by someone much greater than I.

I know those of you who have read my posts for any length of time, know this about me, but I wanted to be sure I put it out there. I’m sure I’d be back in Chicago, rocking in a fetal position while mumbling incoherently to myself if it weren’t for God.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Some People are Just Destined for Greatness

I'm often asked if I always knew I wanted to be a writer. I don't know that I ever really considered writer as a career option. You know, because I like to eat. And pay my bills. And buy extravagant things like socks. Thinking back to my childhood, however, I remember telling stories frequently. Usually, my stories consisted of nuggets like, "No, I didn't hit my sister; the wind knocked her over" and "Yes, yes I did finish all my homework, Mom." What can I say? I was creative with the fiction.


Monday, March 12, 2012

Because Six Kids Just Wasn't Quite Enough

Jackson has been asking me (and by “asking me”, I mean bugging me daily until I want to jump off a cliff) to get him a dog for years. I can hardly afford to care for my kids, let alone any canines. Besides, I don’t want any more responsibility because, let’s face it, after the novelty wears off, we all know who will be taking care of this hypothetical dog. I’m already responsible for more than I can handle; the thought of taking care of one more thing nearly pushes me over the edge to the land of nervous breakdowns and happy pills.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

My Son - the Hobo (otherwise entitled, "I'm so Proud")

My oldest son, Austin is a junior in high school this year. That means that he’ll be a senior next year. And a short year after that, he’ll be (sniff sniff) going away to college. Or so I think. Or hope. Okay, after our recent conversations, I’ll be happy if he manages to get a job at McDonald’s; forget higher education.

You see, recently I’ve been asking Austin what he wants to be when he grows up. Unlike me, he doesn’t give impressive answers like “movie star” or “bird”. Oh no. He has even more illustrious plans than those. Despite my encouraging him to pursue art, he has different directions in mind. I’ve also attempted to persuade him into taking business courses or following a path that would lead to a job in the medical field. But nope, Austin will have nothing to do with those ordinary jobs. So, to get him thinking more seriously about his future, I asked him to make a list of job possibilities with pros and cons.

Here, for your reading pleasure, is Austin’s guest post on job possibilities . . .

Hey! This is Austin, the much more handsome and funnier version of mi madre. After begging me for months to share my amazing writing skills with her readers, I finally gave in. My topic? Give pros and cons on what to be when I grow up as my junior year is almost finished.

I’ve always wanted to be a hobo since I was little. Why, you might ask? Just because I can. I get train rides er’rywhere, my putrid smell attracts little animals to feast on, and I don’t need a job. I can pretty much live like Tarzan and swing from random trees in parks or eat the little pieces of bread old people throw to ducks, very nutritious. I have yet to figure out a bad thing to being a hobo so that’s still a viable option.

I can train to be a street cleaner. After a day of scraping the city streets of junk, just imagine how much free gum I could collect. Any that I don’t eat I can sell to get infinite monies. There’s a chance I could eat so much gum that I’d get a cavity and die, so I’m not too sure about being a street cleaner. Besides, I heard monsters roam the streets at night which is kinda spooky.

I could be one of those people that dress as food and hand out flyers for restaurants. Pluses - I get to wear an awesome costume and get free or discounted food. The negatives are when a little kid sees you, they either expect a picture with you or they beat you senseless. Neither of those options sound very fun.

This may be a long shot, but I can pursue my lifelong dream of becoming the best whistler in the world. I know I’ll have to beat out all the up-and-coming whistling amateurs for a record deal, but no producer could resist such classic hits such as “Classic Whistle Hit” or “Ode to Whistling”. I’d have so many fans and be famous around the world. Even chart topping musicians like The Wiggles from The Wiggles Show will want to meet me. Of course I’ll have no time for them being as amazing as I already am.

Finally, as suggested by SpongeBob, I can be a football playing king in space…with a moustache. I’d get paid so much for that, money for a pro athlete, money for being a king, money for being an astronaut, AND my sexy moustache will attract girls everywhere.


Fabulous, huh?  This is what I have to work with.  Can you see this kind of stuff on a college application?  Yeah.  I see a bright future for this kid.  Sky’s the limit.  Anything goes.  He’ll go far.  Oh, who am I kidding?  He’s gonna live in my basement forever.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Well, it's Sort of a Schedule

I was talking to a friend today about our morning schedules. She sent me a copy of her friend’s schedule which had every activity carefully laid out and timed down to the second. It was a schedule that included precisely 2.5 minutes for brushing teeth, 35 seconds for tying shoes, and 20 seconds for wiping one’s butt. I may be exaggerating slightly, but still, the schedule smacked of military precision and impeccable timing. I got to thinking about my own morning routine. I was forced to admit that perhaps, I might benefit from a little more structure. My typical weekday morning looks a lot like this . . .

5:45 Savannah walks through my room to get to the bathroom. I awake only enough to sense there’s someone in my room. In my dreamlike state, I imagine it’s an intruder. I don’t care if they steal everything I own as long as they’re quiet so I can go back to sleep.

6:00 My alarm goes off and I hit the snooze.

6:08 My alarm goes off and I hit the snooze.

6:16 My alarm goes off and I consider quitting my job and homeschooling my kids before I hit the snooze.

6:24 My alarm goes off and I decide that quitting is the best plan of action before I hit the snooze.

6:32 My alarm goes off and I remember that I need a paycheck and insurance, but I hit the snooze again anyway.

6:40 My alarm goes off and I freak out that we’re all going to be late, or even worse, that I won’t have time to make coffee. I grab my phone and check my email.

6:42 Done skimming email, I play a couple games of solitaire because I may be unforgivably late, but that’s no reason to rush things.

6:47 I drag myself from my nice warm bed and limp to the girls’ room because I’m old and my knees creak when I take my first steps every morning.  I wake up my girls and Clayton who has come to their room sometime during the night, and tell them to HURRY.

6:52  Stand in my closet while looking blindly at my clothes.  Lament that my wardrobe would be twice the size if I just lost another 10 pounds.  Take a skirt off the hanger then decide my ankles look too fat to wear a skirt today.  Grab a pair of capris, then discard them when I remember the zipper doesn’t stay up on those.  Lose a few moments imagining the horror of standing up at my white board, trying to explain slope intercept to my eight graders while they snicker at my open fly.  Pull a pair of khakis off a hanger then decide I don’t have any tops to go with them.  Throw item after item in a heap on the floor of my closet while complaining that I have nothing to wear.  Black pants – too loose, brown pants – too short, tan pants - too hot, green shirt – too much cleavage, blue shirt – too sleeveless for bat wings, orange shirt – I’m not in an orange mood today.

6:59  Disgusted with myself, my clothing, and mornings in general, I pull the stupid skirt I originally selected from the pile of discarded clothing on the floor and trudge to the shower.

7:00  Wash the makeup off my face from yesterday since I fell asleep before doing it last night because I’m classy like that, shampoo, condition, shave, wash, rinse.

7:08  Get out, wrap my bathrobe around me and go downstairs to make coffee.  I tell people it’s because I need caffeine so badly, but in all honesty, it’s because I’m too lazy to dry myself off.  It’s easier to walk around in a terry robe for a bit until I automatically dry.

7:10  Make sure my little ones are eating, make coffee, make my lunch, grab my cup and head back upstairs. The next twenty minutes are spent on a ritual so complex, I can’t even explain it.  It involves a lot of jars, lotions, makeup, potions, brushes, hair products, and burning hot irons.

7:30  Think to myself that we should be pulling out of the driveway NOW.  Rush downstairs while yelling at kids to get in the car.

7:31  Remind Clayton and Jackson to take their medicine.

7:32  Remind Clayton and Jackson to take their medicine again.

7:33  Remind Clayton and Jackson to take their medicine in what some may construe as a threatening voice.

7:34  Sign planners that were supposed to be signed the night before.

7:35  Yell at the kids to stop watching tv, put their stinkin’ shoes on, and get in the car.

7:36  Begin the daily hunt for Clayton’s shoes.

7:42  Find Clay’s shoes and, in a futile attempt to make him learn, tell him for the 40,000 time to put his freakin’ shoes where they belong when he takes them off.

7:45  Start my car, look back to make sure everyone’s present and accounted for.  Tell Lexi to go back inside and get her glasses.

7:50 Arrive at school as the bell rings.

8:15  Arrive at my school after wishing for the zillionith time that I had a front-mounted missle launcher so I could vaporize all the idiot drivers who get in my way.

Hmmmm, on second thought, it would take too much time out of my evening schedule to create a better morning schedule.  I guess I’ll just stick with this one.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Teaching Kids Who Aren't Taught at Home

I have a new respect for teachers. I never wanted to be a teacher. When my fellow classmates in kindergarten were asked what they wanted to be when they grew up, there were the usual answers – fireman, veterinarian, astronaut, teacher. Teacher was never uttered by me. I wanted to be a movie star or a bird. Hey, I had a good imagination I clearly wasn’t the brightest bulb in the box. I was less than fond of school, so the idea of purposely going back on a regular basis never appealed to me. I blame it on my kindergarten teacher, Miss Whiting.

I thought she was the wicked witch of the west. I was convinced she was put on the planet with the sole purpose of making my life miserable. When the other kids finished their milk and cookies (We didn’t care about health back in the day. We didn’t call pizza a vegetable to ease our consciences. We served up milk and cookies because, let’s face it, cookies are really, really good!) Anyway, when the other kids finished, they got to play at the sand table, or with Play-Doh, or they got to have story time with Do-So the Dolphin puppet. But not me, oh no. Nope, the evil teacher made me sit at the table for the rest of the day because day after day I refused to drink my milk. I hate milk. I’ve always hated milk. When I was a kid, I thought milk was cow urine. What five-year-old wants to drink something that comes out of a cow’s butt? She may have made me sit there Monday through Friday while everyone else got to play, but in the end, I won. I never did drink that nasty warmish milk in those little cartons with the soggy cardboard spouts.  Ha!  Who has the last laugh now, Miss Whiting?  That’s right, the stubborn brat with the boy haircut and smocked dress from your class in 1975, that’s who!

Anyway, teacher was never on my What I Want to be When I Grow up list. So naturally, here I am. A teacher. Well, I’m not actually a teacher. But I am a teacher-like person. I have six periods a day of students who are, hmmm, how to put this? You know how there are always one or two kids in a class that drive the teacher nuts? Cause trouble? Don’t listen? Don’t study or do their homework? Those are all my students. I work with the lowest performing kids in the school. I try to help the ones who are failing, the ones who have behavior issues, the ones who generally don’t have any support at home. It’s a tough job. It’s draining. And I’m not even trying to teach them anything! I’m just trying to reinforce what their teachers are teaching them. I’m trying to get them to do their assignments. I’m studying with them and hoping some of what I go over will get pushed to their long-term memory.

I try to remember that a lot of these kids go home to an empty house after school.  I have students who are homeless.  I have ones who should be in high school, but have been held back a time or two.  I have kids whose parents are too strung out on drugs to care for their kids.  I have students who acutely feel the effects of financial hardships.  I know I have students who go home to situations that you and I can’t imagine.  I try to remember that a lot of these kids act the way they do because they simply haven’t been taught any other way to behave.  These kids are out there.  These kids who don’t have support at home for a variety of reasons.  Seeing this first-hand has really given me a new respect for the people who deal day in and day out with other people’s children, caring for them, teaching them, trying their best to set them on a path for success despite, in many cases, little to no support from the kids’ own family.  Still, when the librarian at my school recently asked me if I ever thought about going back to school to become a teacher, I answered, “No way!  I’m still planning to be a movie star or a bird when I grow up!”

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