Monday, April 30, 2012

The Supermodel Plan (aka - how exercise is gonna kill me)

In January, I made my annual resolution – 
lose weight. Yeah, I know, real original. Generally, this resolution lasts until about January 2nd, give or take a day. This year, however, I’ve stuck with it. Or maybe I haven’t exactly stuck with it, but I haven’t completely given up on it either. I’ve been making careful food decisions, choosing vegetables over cookies, fruit over pasta, sawdust bars over chocolate. Despite that, the weight has been coming off pretty slowly so I finally came to terms with the fact that I can no longer count brushing my teeth and fastening my sandals as exercise. I need to add actual exercise – the kind that makes you sweat and scream in pain – to my repertoire.

I’m doing this for myself.  I’ve neglected myself a lot over the years.  Having six kids kinda does that to you.  The past couple years especially have been tough.  I know the kids have had a rough time dealing with the divorce and the way their dad has changed.  I know they’ve had a difficult time adjusting to the move.  I’ve been dedicated to ensuring their well-being at all costs.  Every moment, every decision I make, everything I do is spent with their best interest in mind.  If I have a spare moment, it’s given to my kids, whether it’s helping them with homework, talking to them, teaching them life skills, or even working so I can make enough money to pay for football sign-up or a dress for the dance, etc.

I don’t regret any of those choices.  I’ve done what needed to be done and I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.  But now that we’re all developing a new sense of normal and getting into a good groove and adjusting pretty well, I feel the need to take some time for myself.  I’m pushing the selfish feelings I have aside and, much like the airline safety video states, I’m putting on my own oxygen mask so I can better assist others.

I have a plan.  I’ve named it the Supermodel Plan.  By the end of summer, I will look like a supermodel, or I’ll at least look good enough that no one will try to push me back in the ocean when I’m lying on the beach.

How hard could it be, right?  I mean, when I look at the dating profiles of all these guys, I see so many of them state they like working out.  They even include pictures of themselves at the gym.  They’re smiling in the pictures and they look like they enjoy working out.  If all those guys can do it, I can totally do it too, I convinced myself.

Today, I opted to go for a walk.  I dug out my tennis shoes and found a pair of socks.  Clay took one look at me and asked, “What’s on your feet?”  That’s how often I wear shoes.  My own son was confused and couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t barefoot or clad in flip flops.  I walked outside, popped in my earbuds, fired up my iPod and started down the street at a fast clip.  Heck, I was practically jogging I was going so fast.  I got to the end of the street, rounded the corner, and slowed down because my feet were hot.  I considered ditching my shoes and continuing barefoot, but thought it would probably be bad if I stepped on something sharp.  I walked on toward the lake.

A couple weeks ago, I tried walking around the track at school, but after two laps, I got tired and quit.  By walking to the lake, it’s tough luck if I get tired because I still have to walk back home.  I’m pretty sure this method has been deemed torture by Amnesty International and the Geneva Convention, but I force myself to do it anyway.

As I walked on, I became aware of the fact that I could no longer breathe like a normal human.  I gasped and panted and groaned (and not in a good way either).  I think I may have started wheezing at some point, but the blood pounding in my ears made me deaf to my breathing and moaning.  Soon after I became oxygen-deprived, I got a cramp in my side.  I stopped for a moment, bent over, held my side, and gasped like a fish out of water.  I thought about knocking on the door of the nearest house and asking them for a ride home, but let’s face it – if someone looking like me showed up at my door, I’d call the police, not offer them a ride home.  I straightened and kept going.

By this time, I was dripping wet.  As I arrived at the lake, I remembered being told once that “pigs sweat, men perspire, and women glow.”  I gave a little snort to myself as my glowing-ness dripped into my eyes, down my back, between my boobs.  I thought about jumping in the polluted lake to cool off before heading home.  I saw an alligator which surprisingly didn’t deter me, but made me want to jump in even more simply because I figured an alligator bite equaled an ambulance ride home.

I don’t remember anything from the time I reached the lake to when I walked in my front door, but I think I may have crawled part of the way.  I stumbled inside, ripped off my shoes and socks, and collapsed on the floor amid a chorus of insults from my kids.  “Mom, did you just take a shower?  You smell like outside.  Why is your face so red?  Are you dead?”

In order to attract all sorts of younger men who are physically fit, I think I’ll add this photo to my online dating profile with the caption – ‘I’m sexy and I know it.  I work out!’ What man wouldn’t find a woman who can’t walk three miles without turning beet red, going into cardiac arrest, and sweating enough to look like she’d just come out of the shower attractive, right?

540496 10150986363490116 606385115 9430710 2065085613 n 225x300 The Supermodel Plan (aka   how exercise is gonna kill me)

I’ve made a slight adjustment to the Supermodel Plan.  It’s now called the Lie Around Like a Slug All Summer Plan.  I’m okay with that.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Oh Clay, I'm so Proud (For Real This Time)

This morning, I attended an Honor Roll Breakfast 
at the grade school my kids attend. Clayton got straight As last quarter so we celebrated his success today. When the principal called the kids’ names, they walked on stage to accept their certificates. The teachers were standing alongside the principal and most of the kids either shook their teacher’s hands or gave them hugs. When it was Clay’s turn, however, his teacher reached out her arms to give Clay a hug but instead, he did some weird-looking, double high-five type maneuver. He may be a straight A student, but he’s still my Clay.

After all the kids had received their awards, I got up so I could kiss my kids goodbye and head to work. On the way out, I stopped and said hello to Clayton’s teacher.

“Hi, Ms. Meehan!” Then to Clay, “Good job, Clayton!”

In response, Clay crossed his eyes and made a goofy face.

His teacher continued. “Clayton is one of my best role models in class now.”

I glanced at Clay who was hopping around like he was standing on hot coals. Then I looked back at her for confirmation that we were indeed talking about the same kid.

“Clayton?” I asked, dubiously. “He’s a role model?” I asked, certain I’d misheard her.

“Yes!” she confirmed, smiling at us.

Now, this is the same kid who got in trouble regularly in kindergarten. And first grade. And the beginning of second grade. This is the same kid who was written up for throwing corn across the lunchroom, punching a kid, standing on the toilet and hanging from the bathroom stall, kicking a kid, pushing a kid down, and calling a kid names.

This is the same kid who came out to my car one day after kindergarten, and when I asked him if he’d gotten in trouble at school, answered, “Nope, I was good today.” When I asked him, “Then why is your teacher walking out to the car?” he frantically yelled, “I don’t know drive, drive, DRIVE!” as he ducked down in my car.

This is the same kid who writes books about poop, and dances around the house making silly faces. The same kid who tried to eat Brooklyn’s homework last night. The same kid who ricochets off my van while shouting, “Parkour!” every morning.

I had several people tell me I should be proud of myself because I did such a great job raising a straight A student. No way! If I take credit for his good grades, I’ll have to take credit for his um, “oddities” and there is no way I’m willing to do that!

Monday, April 23, 2012

I Don't Feel Bad When I Throw up on my Dentist

My kids were eating Airheads yesterday and asked 
me if I wanted one. Repulsed by the idea, I adamantly refused to try the sticky, sweet stuff, insisting it would likely pull out my teeth. I used to have good teeth, I did! Then I had kids. And now my teeth are the consistency of sandstone; they crumble apart at the slightest pressure. So I was a very good girl and didn’t eat any garbage that could damage what’s left of my teeth.

Ironically, not ten minutes later, I was washing
dishes and felt like there was something stuck in my tooth. I used my finger to dislodge the particle only to discover it wasn’t a piece of food at all. It was a filling. Or part of my tooth. Or something that was definitely not supposed to come out. Which is just another argument in my growing list of reasons why doing dishes is bad for your health.

So I made an appointment for this afternoon and figured I might as well get the tooth next to it filled as well while I’m there, (I lost that filling over a year ago.) I’d go to the dentist more often if it weren’t for the four foot long needles, the drill, the sucky thing, the variety of nasty tasting solutions they put in your mouth, and the picture of Steve Martin singing and dancing around with a maniacal look on his face that run through my head every time I consider making an appointment.

This particular dentist has a TV in the room and plays a movie for you while you’re in the chair of doom. I suppose it’s to take your mind off the fact that he’s dislocating your jaw like a python and drilling holes in your head. Today, the movie du jour was National Treasure. I like Nicholas Cage so I was okay with his choice. Of course, I only got to see the first few minutes before he tipped me back so far that all the blood rushed to my head and pounded in my ears until I thought I’d pass out. Then the fun began.

I received my standard-issue paper bib and sunglasses. I’m not sure what the sunglasses are for. My old dentist didn’t do this. Maybe it’s to keep flying spit and stuff out of your eyes. I was just thankful they weren’t 3D glasses because the dentist coming at you with a drill in 3D is not something that anyone should ever experience.

He put some super-nasty gel that tasted like rotten pineapple mixed with grain alcohol on my gums to numb them. Then he gave me a shot of Novocaine (or whatever numbing agent they use these days) and left to sharpen his tools while it took effect. When he came back (and took me away from Nick again), he asked me if my lip was good and numb. “Uh no. Is it supposed to be?” I asked, freaking out that I’d feel him drilling, jump out of the chair, and stick to the ceiling like a cartoon cat reacting to a dog bark. And then I did an about-face and freaked out that he’d give me another shot so I offered, “My cheek is numb though.”

After determining that I wasn’t numb enough, he gave me another shot. Some shot juice squirted out of the syringe and arced through the air, landing on my sunglasses. Ahhh, so that’s what they’re for! I wondered if my eye would be numb if it weren’t for the protective eyewear. Would I be able to move my eye? Would it dilate? I spent the next couple minutes thinking about this until he came back to check my numb-ocity level. My lip still wasn’t numb at all, so he gave me yet another shot.

By this time, Nicholas Cage had found The Charlotte and my lip still wasn’t very numb. My ear, on the other hand, was very numb. It felt cold and wet and I kept turning my head to make sure there wasn’t a dog licking it.

The dentist (who probably wanted to get home for dinner) decided I was numb enough and started drilling. Everything was fine for a minute until – what the crap?! I jumped up (and thought about grabbing the drill out of his hand). “Should it feel like I was hit by lightning in my tooth?”

Enter the fourth shot of Novocaine. While he drilled my cavity, the smell of burning teeth assaulted my nostrils and images of Bill Cosby doing his dentist bit flash through my mind. “There’s smoboke combing out of myby moubouth!”

He finished drilling my cavity, put some vile, bitter swill in the crater, then went on to fix the tooth that fell apart yesterday.

“I can’t really put another filling in here,” he informed me. It won’t last. You don’t really have any tooth left. You need a crown.”

My eyes lit up at the thought of a crown. “A crown, you say? Now, would that technically make me a princess?” I inquired. I’m not sure, but I think he replied with, “No, but it will let me buy that boat I’ve had my eye on.”

He started drilling and once again I felt pain from my tooth down to my toes so he shot me up again. That’s right – FIVE shots of Novocaine. FIVE! By this time the entire left side of my body was numb. I probably looked like I’d had a stroke.

When the drilling was finally done, I was pretty sure I’d need surgery to fix my permanently dislocated jaw. Then he did something so diabolical, I shudder to recall the details. He shoved some sort of cord around what was left of my tooth, pushing it down into my gums with an ice pick. That wasn’t fun, but the really horrible part was that it was soaked in rat poison or something. As it dripped down my throat, I gagged. Repeatedly. The assistant backed away so quickly, she nearly fell off her chair. I would have laughed at her reaction, but I threw up instead. I can’t say that I felt bad about it either.

For dinner tonight, I had a smoothie and enough Advil to kill a horse. I don’t believe I’ll ever go back for my crown. Royalty is highly overrated!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Taste Takes Flight for Wings

As you know, I was one of the contributing authors for Margaret McSweeney's book, Pearl Girls (available here). 100% of the proceeds from the sale of this inspiring book are going to Hands of Hope and Wings, two very worthwhile organizations. I've done book signings for Wings (Women In Need Growing Stronger) and I love what the organization does. Wings provides safe houses for women and children fleeing domestic violence, job training and placement, transitional housing, hope, and so much more for those in the Chicagoland area.

Wings is holding a fundraiser, Sip, Sample, and Shop on Friday, April 27th at The Meadows Club in Rolling Meadows. Tickets are $50 each. I wish I was back in Chicagoland for this because it looks like it'll be a DELICIOUS time! I mean, there will be wine, chocolate, and tasty fare from local restaurants like Chessie's/111 Grille, L'Eiffel Bistrot and Creperie, and Wild Asparagus so what's not to like, right?

Aaaaand, Katie Workman, founder of the super-popular fabulous website with great cookbook recipes and a phenomenal search engine. You can type in ingredients from your fridge and pantry and voila--- recipes will pop up!) will be there doing a cooking demo and signing copies of her new cookbook: The Mom 100 Cookbook! In fact, my dear friend, Margaret McSweeney recently interviewed Katie on Kitchen Chat. You can check it out HERE!

If you're in the Chicagoland area, check out the event! And have a glass of wine and some chocolate for me. Oh and give Margaret McSweeney a hug for me. (I hate having to do these things by proxy!)  You can get your tickets online HERE. Want a chance to win a ticket to the event? You're in luck! I have one ticket (a $50 value) along with a copy of Katie's new cookbook to give away to one lucky winner! Just leave me a comment here in order to be included in the random drawing on Wednesday. Make sure you include your contact information. Good luck and thank for supporting Wings!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Twelve Tips for Your Online Dating Profile

Many of you know that I joined eHarmony recently. If you don't know, you're clearly not reading my blog often enough. You know who you are. (pointed, raised eyebrow stare) Anyway, I'm not sure that online dating is for me. I'm not in a rush to find a husband or anything. If God leads me to a good man, that's great. If not, then I know I'll be supplied with the tools I need to survive and be happy on my own. It's all good.

That said, I've learned a few things from my foray into the world of online dating and I feel the need to share them here. There are a LOT of you who need help with your dating profiles. In fact, I'd venture to wage that most of you could stand some help. If you think you don't fall into this category, ask yourself - How much interest is my profile generating? Am I getting emails, winks, icebreakers, and messages from possible matches? Are people even taking the time to look at my profile? If you aren't receiving the attention you desire then perhaps your profile is making potential matches think you're an uneducated troll not that desirable. Allow me to elaborate.

Here, in no particular order, are twelve rules for creating a decent online dating profile. The first three rules really go hand-in-hand, but they are all so important that I’m separating them and giving them individual attention.

EXAMPLE: I’m am like to walks on the beach and opening the doors for ladys is something I do alot.
You don’t have to be an English teacher to use proper grammar. If this is not your strong suit, then find someone to help you! True, a poorly written profile may not scare off everyone who reads it, but it will definitely eliminate a fair amount of people who have the ability to read.

EXAMPLE: I like to get out their and do phisical activitiees and doing thing outside like serfing and playing soccar.
Two words – spell check. Again, if spelling is something with which you struggle, get help!

This will undoubtedly come as a shock to some of you, but stringing 250 words together does not a sentence make.
EXAMPLE: Let’s eat Grandma! Or Let’s eat, Grandma!
Punctuation: It saves lives.


Stand out! I read several profiles a day and they all sound the same. Why should I take time out to talk to some guy who sounds like every other guy out there?
EXAMPLE GUY A: I’m looking for someone honest who likes the same things I like. My partner must like keeping in shape and watching movies. I hope to find that special someone to share my life with.

EXAMPLE GUY B: . . . I know many women where we like each other well enough. I make ‘em laugh; we are an intellectual, moral, and recreational match. We both love Long Walks On The Beach, Fine Dining, and Can Go From Jeans-And-A-Tee-Shirt to A-Little-Black-Dress-And-Pearls In The Bat Of An Eyelash (although I had to have my LBD tailored — you should have seen the looks on their faces at Neiman Marcus). But I’m still looking for that one special person. . .

Now, just from those little snippets, who would you rather talk to?

EXAMPLE: I’m looking for a woman who is 5’6″ and weighs no more than 140 pounds. My ideal mate has blond hair and blue eyes, but I’ll consider light brown hair. I’d really like to find someone employed in the medical field.
Although I think it’s a good idea to list some details about the kind of person for whom you’re searching, being too specific makes you sound like a jerk picky. And yes, you’re allowed to be picky about potential partners, but don’t list every requirement in your profile!

The next several rules deal with profile photographs.

Okay men, I understand your need to document the catch of the day, but this is not a photo you want to include on your dating profile unless you’re looking to meet other men. The same goes for dead animal heads hanging on the wall.

To be honest, I hesitated for a bit on this one. It could mean nothing more than a guy who’s showing potential matches that he loves his mom and he’s been taught to respect women. Then again, it might mean he lives in mommy’s basement and she still cooks for him and does his laundry. Ultimately, it’s best to leave the I <3 Mom pic off your profile.

I’ve seen pictures of cars, campers, boats, motorcycles, jet skis, and ATVs. Again, I wonder just what audience these men are trying to impress with these photos. Yes, I’m sure there are some women who would be impressed by your car, but do you really want a woman who is talking to you solely because you own a sweet ride?

Although those shots of beautiful sunsets, peaceful lakes, and gorgeous mountains are lovely, we want to see what you look like. So, unless you’re in the foreground of that breathtaking scenery shot, leave it off your profile. Including random pictures of landscapes is no different that using a picture of a table, or a napkin, or a Cheeto on your profile.

It’s just plain mean to include pictures from your college football days when you are currently sixty pounds overweight, bald, and missing a tooth. And what do you think your date is going to say when you finally meet her in person? She’ll think you’re her match’s father! Use current photos!

Why do so many men like posting pictures of themselves sitting in their cars? And why are these always taken from such a low angle that it just ends up being a picture looking up the guy’s nostrils? That’s never a flattering look. For anyone.

This is another common photo that people use. I guess a picture taken in a bathroom mirror isn’t that big a deal as long as there aren’t water spots all over the mirror and dirty towels/hemmorhoid medication on the counter, however it does kind of scream that you have no friends to take a picture of you. And if you must use a bathroom mirror pic, do not use a flash!

Please take my tips and feel free to pass them on to anyone who might need a little help. The online dating world will thank you. And best wishes on finding that special someone!

Monday, April 16, 2012

When You're Mom and Dad

Lexi came home with a flyer advertising the first annual father-daughter dance at her school last week. She showed me the paper and asked, “Should I just throw it away?”

My throat closed up. What do I say?

Of course, her dad isn’t going to take her to the dance. Stuff like this breaks my heart. I can juggle and juggle and work myself into the ground trying to care for everyone, but this just brings it home that I can’t do everything no matter how hard I try. I will always fall short. And the super-hero in me hates that.

I told Lexi I would bring her to the dance if she liked. A second later, Austin stepped up and offered to take her. Lexi glanced between us and hesitantly pointed to me.

“You want me to take you? I’d be happy to go with you. I will probably be the only mom there. I don’t care. I don’t think it’s a big deal, but if you think that might make you feel uncomfortable and weird, you don’t have to go at all. We could stay home and do something fun here.”

Austin said, “You might be the only mom there, but I’d be the youngest ‘father’ for sure!”

Lexi admitted that she’d feel weird going with either one of us. I encouraged her to think about it, but if she really didn’t want to go, it was no big deal. I told her we could stay home, watch movies, paint our nails, and she could eat chocolate while I eat a heaping pile of failure stew.

But how do you teach your kids how to fix stuff when you don’t even know how to hold a screwdriver? How do you teach your sons to open the door for a lady? How do you play catch with them when you throw like a girl? How do you discuss cars when the only thing you know about cars is what color they are. And more importantly, how to teach your son to grow up with good moral character? How do you teach him to be a man of his word? Yeah, yeah, I do the best I can with what I have, but I still feel like they’re missing out, not having a positive male role model in their lives. I worry about that. But still, I think no male role model is better than a poor one.

And on the subject of poor role models, although I think I may be ready to date, I am in no way, shape, or form ready to even consider introducing someone to my kids. The first time around, I married the first guy who came along even though he was completely wrong for me. I will not make that mistake again. I will only consider men of strong faith who are addiction-free, depression-free, can fix stuff, don’t chew with their mouths open, have hulking big muscly arms, who have a decent moral compass, and who walk on water so that one day, in the far-away future, they’ll make good, positive role models for my kids.

In the meantime, I’ll keep trying to be both mom and dad. I’ll keep teaching my sons and daughters what I believe is right and wrong. I’ll keep dropping balls. I’ll keep picking them back up and juggling again. I’ll keep trying to surround my kids, especially my boys, with positive male role models. I’ll keep letting my sons make fun of me for not knowing the difference between a Challenger and a Camaro. And I’ll keep trying to understand what’s so funny about farts. Actually, on the second thought, scratch that last one. I’m done trying to understand the inner workings of the male brain.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Those Kodak Moments

I love to take pictures. I’m not necessarily good at it, but I enjoy it nonetheless. Besides, if I’m behind the camera, then I won’t be caught on film because I hate getting my picture taken as much as I love taking pictures. I’ve put thousands (literally, thousands!) of pictures on flash drives and CDs. I’ll probably never have the time or money to print them and put them in albums, but now and then I like looking through them on my computer. I really like looking at other people’s pictures also. It doesn’t matter what the subject matter is, I just truly enjoy looking at pictures. If that description fits you, please feel free to take a look at some of my better photos here. I’m happy to share!

One Small Act of Kindness - Week Six

Today, I treated myself to an iced coconut coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts. As I pulled my car up to the drive-thru window and paid for my coffee, I told the cashier I’d like to pay for the person’s order behind me. I do this now and then and the good feeling I get from doing it never gets old. It spreads throughout me, warms me, and makes me smile. I drove away grinning, but got stuck in traffic. The woman whose order I’d just paid for drove up next to me, honking, waving and smiling like crazy. I nodded and smiled in return and continued my commute to work.

There are so many great things about doing random acts of kindness for strangers. For one, you get to make someone else’s day! That’s a powerful feeling. Another amazing thing that stems from your act is that the person who benefitted from your kindness is likely to pass it on in some way to another person. It really is the gift that keeps on giving. (Now I’m thinking of Clark’s Jelly of the Month Club gift on National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation!) And, one of the coolest things that comes doing something nice for someone else is that it pulls you out of yourself. We get so wrapped up in our own problems and agendas that we end up unintentionally alienating ourselves from the rest of the world. We’re so focused on ourselves that we forget there’s a whole world of people out there with their own struggles.

Don’t take my word for it; try it yourself! Do something for someone else and see how it brings you out of yourself and makes you feel really good for the rest of the day!

As always, please leave me a comment with your ideas for random acts of kindness. It’s not bragging about how awesome you are; it’s sharing ideas that can benefit everyone who reads this.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Now THAT'S How You Stretch a Dollar!

I absolutely love looking at little kids’ schoolwork. I admire their drawings and I’m fascinated with the way their minds work. Reading what my little kids have written is one of my favorite things to do. Hmmmm, maybe I should include that on my eHarmony profile under how I like to spend my leisure time – deciphering the phonetic spelling of a little kid.

Clay, who is in second grade, brought this paper home today. Now, I thought I was pretty good at stretching a dollar. I can make a buck go pretty far, but Clay . . . Well, Clayton is a jedi master at making the most of his money! The question he had to answer was – What would you do if you had $100? His answer was -

If I had $100, I would buy 10 Ripsticks and 2 lamborghinis and 2 dogs and 20 controllable small cars. And I will share with everybody.

I’m not sure what kind of deal he worked out with those lamborghinis, but go Clay! In fact, how does my eight-year-old even know what a lamborghini is? Is car knowledge something boys are just born with? Hmmm, I’ll have to ask him. But awwwww, he said he’s going to share with everyone! How cool is that? And that’s not all. He continued his answer with . . .

And with my leftovers, I will buy a house. And in my house, I will buy a TV, couches, kitchen stove, a pool, bikes, and last but not least, playing with it.

I love this! I cracked up when I got to the part where he’d buy a house with his leftover money after buying two lamborghinis. So he may not have the most accurate concept of money, but how great is this paper? This one is definitely going into his box of saved schoolwork!

photo 300x224 Now THATS How You Stretch a Dollar!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

God's Trains Run on Time

A reader recently asked me why I don’t write funny stories about the stuff my kids get into anymore. The answer is simple – my kids don’t get into all manner of things anymore. (I'm at a different stage of my life now. These days I write about my son's hobo career goal, and getting back into the dating scene after 20 years.) As with everything, the mess-making was a phase my kids went through when they were younger. At the time, it was frustrating. But take heart, you parents of young ones, this too shall pass. It won’t last forever. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” Or, as my dear friend and author, Margaret McSweeney always says, “God’s trains run on time.”

Of course, it will be replaced with other frustrating and confusing things like first boyfriends, getting driver’s licenses, college applications, weddings, grandkids . . . But then again, those stages will pass in the blink of an eye as well. That’s kind of how it works. Nothing stays the same; people grow, circumstances change. Things happen when they’re supposed to happen and they end when they’re supposed to end. It all works together and good can come out of even the most dire situations.

I know that time flies in the blink of an eye. I know this. I see it firsthand every day. Yet, I still have to remind myself to slow down and enjoy it sometimes. It’s just so darn easy to get caught up in the stresses of daily life, and so easy to be blind to the little things that matter. Last night, Brooklyn climbed into bed with me. I thought – great, now I’ll never get any sleep! That kid is like an octopus! For a tiny girl, she sure takes up a lot of space in my bed, limbs all over the place. And her feet are drawn to my butt like a magnet; I get kicked on my backside all night long. But something made me stop last night and look at her sweet, sleeping face. This won’t last much longer. Before I know it, she’ll be too big and too old to climb into bed with me. I know this stage will be replaced with something else and it makes my heart ache a little. So I pulled her closer to me and snuggled. What’s a little butt-kicking between a mama and her baby, right?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

When Your Son's Greatest Aspiration is to be a Hobo

My youngest three kids get out of school a couple hours before I get home from work. I’d been having Austin watch them after school while Savannah is at water polo practice. However, Austin’s idea of watching them and mine were a little different in that Austin didn’t actually watch them. Or maybe he did. Watch them make messes, that is. I finally got tired of coming home to Austin asleep on the couch while the little ones played this game called, “Let’s move every item in the house into another room for no apparent reason”. (Thanks, Ilene, for the name of that game. It’s very fitting!)

I signed my little ones up for the after-school program last week. They weren’t happy with the idea and to tell the truth, neither was I. I hate that they have to stick around there for another couple hours after they finish their school day and I hate the idea of having to pay for childcare when I don’t make all that much to begin with, but I finally realized that I hated coming home to a disaster even more. Austin was assigned the task of walking to town and filling out applications for an afterschool job since the whole babysitting thing just wasn’t panning out.

Want to know how many applications Austin filled out last week? Any guesses? Apparently, getting a job doesn’t mesh with his whole ‘I want to be a hobo’ plan. This week, he was given an ultimatum – get a stinkin’ job or spend your afternoons cleaning the house and getting dinner started.  If you don’t, your computer is mine! I’m pretty sure I’ll be acquiring another computer by Friday.

On the bright side, my youngest three are loving the after-school program. In fact, yesterday they complained that I’ve been picking them up too early. (I rush over there the second I get out of work.) They asked me to please let them stay longer. I’m thinking about staying after school to work out for a bit before going to get them. It would be nice to have some time to myself to decompress after work, especially if I can get my mind off what I should be doing and drop the guilt of spending some much needed time on my very neglected self.

The thing I have dreaded the most – sticking my kids in the care of someone else, may turn out all right afterall.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Mr. Sandman, Bring me a Dream

I’ve been having some strange dreams lately. They’re either stress-induced or I have some serious mental issues. I’m going with the stress theory. I’m pretty good at managing stress during the day. At least I think I’m pretty good at it. Any day I don’t wind up on the floor, rocking back and forth in a fetal position is good in my book, anyway.

People tell me to let go of the things that stress me. That’s good advice in theory, I guess. I can let the little stuff slide without a second thought, but there are some stressors that I just can’t do away with. Juggling all my responsibilities, trying to make ends meet every month, and attempting to ensure my kids’ well-being are all ever-present in my mind. And even if I can tuck away those things that stress me out and they aren’t at the surface, they’re still lurking around the dark corners of my brain somewhere between the lyrics to We Are Young (which plays on a continuous 24 hour loop in my mind), and the seldom used Pythagorean Theorem.

A couple nights ago, I dreamt that the roof of my house was collapsing. It was raining and the ceiling was saturated with water. Every time I looked up, I’d see the water spot spreading further and further across the room. I could tell the plaster was getting spongy. As my dream wore on, the ceilings in every room of the house started sagging, closing in on me. I knew it was only a matter of time until the entire structure collapsed.

I called my friend Jenny to get the name of the carpenter who fixed her roof, but she was too busy to talk to me. (I’m fairly certain she’s never had a carpenter fix her roof in real life, but it seemed plausible in my dream.) I called my friend Eric to see if he had any ideas on how to fix it, but he wasn’t around to help me. I finally gave up, gathered my kids, and left my house. As I drove away, it was pitch black and pouring rain outside. I watched in my rearview mirror as the second story crumbled down into the first.

I awoke with an impending sense of doom and helplessness.

Then last night, I dreamt that my kids were late for school, but I couldn’t get them there. I’m really not sure what my problem was and why I couldn’t get them to school, but I ended up asking an acquaintance from back home in Chicagoland to watch my kids while I went to get something. (I don’t know what the “something” was. I guess I was too lazy to come up with any specifics in last night’s dream.) I borrowed this friend’s shoes that were black and shiny and one size too small (Hmmm, on the topic of shoes I was oddly specific) and I went out on foot to find that elusive something I was searching for. I walked down the stairs and admired how this acquaintance had squeezed a bed into the small space in the hall at the top of the stairs for a guest room. As I left her house, I think I broke her door. I’m not sure. It might have already been like that, but the door wouldn’t latch shut. I did the best I could to close it and then left it sort of flapping in the breeze so I could find that something and get back to take my kids to school. (Yes, I’m aware this doesn’t make much sense. Yes, I’ve considered not drinking rum before bed. Leave me alone and let me finish my story.)

As I was walking around as fast as I could through strip malls, basketball courts and apartment buildings (I have no idea what the city planners in my dream were thinking), I ran into a guy who went to grade school with me. He was playing basketball along with a bunch of other people I remembered from a long time ago. He told me that I should meet up with them at the basketball courts later tonight so we could talk and catch up. I readily agreed and asked him for his number so I could text him when I got there. (There were dozens of courts and I didn’t want to wander around looking for him.)

He told me the first three digits of his phone number, but then gave me a math problem that, when I figured it out, would reveal the last digits of his telephone number. I looked at the problem for a while. It was 10 – 2 10. I stared at it. Ten, minus, two, ten. Then I looked at him. Then back at the problem. Then at him. (I distinctly remember this part because I was so dumbfounded by it in my dream.) I complained and told him to stop goofing off and just give me his stupid number. He laughed and insisted I’d have to figure out the problem. I finally gave up and told him I hated basketball anyway. Then I stomped off so I could get back to my kids.

Next thing I know, I’m walking around, trying to get to my friend’s house to get my kids. When I returned, she said that she’d already taken them to school. Then she got upset because I’d stretched out her shiny, black shoes. (Nice how my dreams have continuity like that, huh?)

Oddly enough, I woke up an hour late this morning and had to rush to get my kids to school.

Like I said before, I’m going with the stress theory. I say my vivid dreams (and teeth grinding) are my way of dealing with the stress that I shove to the back burner during the day. I guess it’s gotta come out somewhere and given the choice of me losing it during the day or having strange dreams at night, I’ll choose the strange dreams thankyouverymuch. Besides, they make decent blog material. So how do you deal with the things that stress you out?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Go to Bed!

If someone told me to put away my work and go to bed at 8:00, I’d leave tracks as I ran upstairs and flung myself onto my bed. I’d probably be asleep before my head hit the pillow as well. I don’t know any adults, given the chance, who would pass up the chance to get some rest. But kids? Well, kids are nothing like adults!

Every night, my kids manage to stall for hours, HOURS before falling asleep. It doesn’t matter when I tell them to go to bed either.  They just can’t manage to go to sleep at a reasonable hour. I tried to come up with a solution to my bedtime bind. Being a rational, thinking person, I figured that maybe I was putting them to bed too early. They simply weren’t tired yet. My theory made sense to my sophisticated, brilliant mind, so, I let them stay up a little later, certain they would instantly fall asleep when I sent them upstairs an hour past their regular bedtime. Nope. They naturally stayed up, goofing off an hour later than usual. Let this be a lesson to any other fool out there thinking they can use reason and logic to understand how kids work.

Then I thought perhaps they’d go to sleep in a more timely fashion if I started waking them up a little earlier. Surely that will tire them out and send them to dreamland promptly at 8:00, I surmised. I tried it for a few days. But alas, this theory did not work either. They continued to mess around at night, taking hours to fall asleep, but I also had the added bonus of crabby, cranky kids in the morning. Not to mention the fact that waking my kids up earlier put a serious cramp in my daily snooze alarm game.

Next, I got the ingenious idea that they’d all go to sleep much better if I staggered their bedtimes. If Brooklyn’s asleep before Lexi lies down, there won’t be any talking or goofing off, I speculated. “It’s just mad enough to work!” I exclaimed to myself while my teens, overhearing me, gave each other knowing glances, confirming each other’s suspicions that I’d officially lost it. I still think it was a good plan even though it didn’t work that well. I mean, how was I supposed to know it would take until 2:30 to get everyone asleep?

I thought perhaps I just needed to make bedtime more meaningful for my kids. Instead of giving them distracted goodnight kisses while reading email or writing amazing blog posts, I decided to go in their room and play with them a bit to help settle them down. Note to self: next time you try to settle the kids down to sleep, do NOT pretend you’re a zombie and chase them around, trying to munch on their brains. This, strangely enough, does NOT settle them down.

Finally, I gave up and poured glasses of wine for everyone. Sweet dreams!

*****Don’t worry. I use creative license when I write. I didn’t really give my kids wine. I wouldn’t waste good wine like that. I used Benedryl instead.*****

Thursday, April 5, 2012

One Small Act of Kindness - Week Five

I’ve been horrible at updating my blog with my weekly small acts of kindness. It’s not that I haven’t been doing the acts, but I find myself so busy in the evening that I’m having a hard time writing about them. In the next couple weeks, I’m going to try to catch up because this really is important to me.

The week before spring break I did something fun with all my classes. Many of my students have some unimaginable situations at home. They have some very real problems, much more than just the drama over who’s dating who, and what grade they got on their history test. When I’m having a pity party, I find that doing something nice for someone else makes me forget about my problems and focus on someone else. It’s excellent (and cheap) therapy! I wanted to give my students the chance to do this too.

Then, some of my students had asked me about the shootings a few weeks ago in Ohio. I told them, “You never know how your actions are going to affect another person. The person you insult today may snap and come back to school with a gun tomorrow. Conversely, the person who is contemplating suicide may be so cheered up when you invite them to sit at your table during lunch that they go home and choose not to carry out their deathly plan.”

So, I decided to have my students participate in some random acts of kindness. I bought several bags of lollipops and attached notes to them. One side of the note read, “You’re important! :)” The other listed five things the recipient could do to pay it forward. Things like Walk your neighbor’s dog, Open the door for someone, and Clean your room were listed.

I had each of my students take a handful of lollipops with the instructions to pass them out to random people in the hallways. I didn’t want them just giving them to their buddies, but giving them out to a lonely looking sixth grader or a favorite teacher, or a kid on crutches, etc.

It was fun watching them hand them out during passing periods. They were reluctant and self-conscious at first, but soon they were running around, passing the candy out with a smile. Now and then, throughout the day, I’d see kids walking around with the lollipops. It was pretty cool. I think I’m going to make that a regular activity.

As always, please add your ideas for random acts of kindness here. We can all benefit from hearing what you’re doing in to make a difference in your lives!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Check Yes or No

I'm not sure I like the whole concept of online dating. At first I thought it was a great idea. No jumping in, but slowly getting to know a person over time before even actually meeting them sounded ideal. I mean, I might think differently if it was just me, but with kids, I have no desire to date multiple guys, trying one after another until I find someone who can stand my um, idiosyncrasies. After being on eHarmony for a couple weeks, however, I've decided to forget about dating in all forms. I'm simply going to get a dog. (If you read this Jackson, no, I'm not really getting a dog so stop before you start!) And these are the reasons why . . .

1.  I’m rarely matched with someone who lives in the same state as I.  Although, when I filled out the registration information, I indicated that I’d like to meet people within a 300 mile radius and that was pretty important to me, I get matches from California, Delaware, Kentucky, and Nebraska. I didn’t even know people lived in Nebraska! 

2.  After a while, all the profiles start sounding alike. Rarely do I find one that stands out in any way. Shockingly enough, everyone is looking to meet someone who is honest, sincere, loving, and who enjoys life. I know, right?!  So, I end up judging prospective friends by their profile photos. I was matched with someone who looked like Herman Munster the other day. I immediately discounted him. He might be the greatest guy ever, but when I get seven matches a day, well, I’m not going to strike up a conversation with every single one, so the Hermans of the dating world get the boot. I don’t really like that. It just somehow seems wrong.

3.  There are too many (I mean, WAY too many) profiles that make my eyes bleed. I find myself wanting to write back to these gentlemen, offering to fix their profiles for them so they seem less, um, what’s the word I’m looking for? Stupid! If you’re on an online dating site, for the love of all that is holy, please double-check your spelling, punctuation and grammar. Certainly not everyone will pass over you if you don’t, but I guarantee you’ll lose possible connections if your entire profile is one run-on sentence filled with misspelled words.

4.  There’s this little game you’re apparently supposed to play on eHarmony.  First, after checking out someone’s profile, if their picture doesn’t scare you away and their profile is interesting (or at least punctuated correctly) you’re supposed to send an “icebreaker.” You can choose from prefabricated statements like, “Your profile brought a smile to my face,” or “I just wanted to say hi.”

Then, from what I can tell, you’re supposed to send five closed-ended questions such as, “If you stayed home on a Friday night, what would you rather do? Watch TV, read, wash your hair, rearrange your sock drawer, or cook a fancy meal.” Real great, deep, interesting stuff, no?

After this step, you can choose to send some open-ended questions. “What’s the most daring thing you’ve done in the past year?”

Finally, you send eHarmony email (so your potential stalker partner doesn’t know your real email address.) Personally, it’s the ones who skip the lame questions and send me an email that I’d rather talk to. The rest of it is too much like junior high, passing notes with questions like, “Do you like me?  Check yes or no.”

5.  I don’t really want to respond to the creepy looking or sounding ones who send me “icebreakers” or questions. But I don’t want to be mean and crush anyone’s soul either. But then again, I don’t want to lead on Bubba in California with the ax murderer smile and the favorite hobby of hunting in their wooded backyard, misspelled as humting in there woulded back yard.  But it doesn’t hurt just to say hi and inform him how to spell second grade words, does it? Then again, I can’t really take time out to communicate with every single person just to be nice, can I? It’s just plain awkward. Meeting people in real life doesn’t work this way!

6.  Finally, I’m becoming obsessed. I have the eHarmony app on my phone.  Every morning I wake up and check out the day’s matches. Every time I hear that little chime that someone has sent me mail, I fumble to turn on my phone immediately. I may need a twelve step program if I keep going like this.

Now that I think about it, it wouldn’t take much leg work for any possible match to find this blog. Wouldn’t he be surprised to read about himself here!
I guess I haven’t entirely made up my mind about this online dating stuff yet, but I’ll keep you posted. Check back here to read the latest.


Goodnites Bed Mat Winners

Thank you to everyone who commented about the new Goodnites bed mats! And congratulations to the three random winners!

Chris, Tara, and Rebecca!

You have 48 hours to email me at with your shipping information.


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