Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Does Age Matter With Friends?

I'm sure everyone reading the title of my blog will quickly answer, "Of course not!"  I used to believe that as well, but now I'm not so sure. For as far back as I can remember, I've always had friends around my age.  Some may have been a few years older or younger but nothing more than that. When I was 22, I went on a date with a guy who was 30 (gasp!) and remember thinking, "He's so old and he's experienced so much that I haven't....this could never work..."  and that was only 8 years difference!  It actually didn't work, but had nothing to do with age.    ;)

Friends my age have been a blessing because we've gone through similar phases of life at the same time.  We've been able to draw upon each others' experiences and commiserate if necessary.  Our kids have grown up together and the friendships have just seemed to work; no thought or energy required.

Stepping out of my comfort zone and moving to Kentucky has allowed me to become friends with people of all ages from a variety of different backgrounds.  Of course I've gravitated toward women my own age with kids my kids' ages but there are two women with whom I've become close who are 13 and 18 years older than me. The one 18 years older is only 5 years younger than my mother. Kind of crazy to think of it in those terms!  But these friendships work well and again, little to no thought or energy is required.....until I allow myself to fall prey to silly insecurities.

Last night I found myself wondering if I'm able to give as much as I receive when it comes to these two women.  They are like fountains of knowledge constantly pouring out, filling me with information on every topic under the sun.  Every piece of information is wrapped in an envelop of experience and I have learned so much.   What do I have to offer them in return?  Their kids are older than mine, they've been working longer than me, they've traveled further than me, they've been married longer than me, and they've had more time to build and develop their relationship with God.  

I texted a friend my age last night asking him what I could possibly offer these women and he answered, "Well, you could be a good listener."  And you know what?  He's right. Everyone needs someone to listen once in a while. So while I may not fully understand what my friends are going through in regard to preparing to send a child off to college, I can lend an ear and give them what is oh-so-important in life;  my time and undivided attention. Smart friend, that Josh.   :)

Today the friend who is 13 years older than me told me (unprompted, I might add) that I've taught her how to hug and be a good friend every day through my actions.  She always jokes about being a porcupine who doesn't like to touch or be touched much and that hugging has always been a bit awkward for her.  I've pushed that aside and hugged her on many occasions....and I'm noticing now that she initiates hugs.  Love it! So something seemingly insignificant (to me) like hugging has actually been a big deal to her and she credits me for helping her to come out of her shell when it comes to physical contact with friends.  Can't help but think that's kind of cool.

So does age really matter?  Well, I won't lie- I wish there were a way that I could feel more balanced with my older friends when it comes to the give and take.  But maybe a lot of it is in my head.  We never truly know how we influence others and maybe I have helped them in ways I'll never know.  

I can hope, anyway, because they sure mean the world to me. God certainly knew what he was doing when he placed these two incredible women in my path.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Moving from my "f*** it list" to my "bucket list"...

Running.  Ah, running. Just a few short months ago, I could not think of anything more mundane.  I mean, really, you set out on the road and just run with no destination?  No real purpose?  Friends of mine who run always told me that running is good for the soul and brings them a sense of peace and self-fulfillment.  I highly doubted that something like running could ever affect me that way.

Around February of this year, I started hearing a lot about other peoples' bucket lists.  I had heard the term before but never in such detail.  People were sky-diving, traveling around the world, losing 85 pounds, and running marathons.  Why?  Simply because they wanted to see if they could.  As good a reason as any, right?  Running marathons resonated with me.  26.2 miles?  Geez, I would surely die.  How about a half-marathon?  Yeah right.  I'd die then too, just maybe not as painfully.  A 10K?  Eh...still dreaming.  A 5K?  Well, that's 3.1 miles, right?  I hadn't run for speed since high school.  I believe I ran a mile in 7 min 58 sec back then.  But that was years ago and I knew I was slower than molasses at this point.  Well, I thought to myself, I wouldn't necessarily have to run for speed; I would run just to see if I could do it without passing out and needing an ambulance.  Ok, that'd be a good goal- run the entire 5K without walking. Don't worry about how long it takes. Yeah....

I have never been a runner. In fact, when I started out that first day at the end of February, I ran to the corner and was already huffing and puffing. Someone told me to buy new sneakers so I did.  Another person told me to get an MP3 player and download some decent running music.  Check.  I had heard about the Couch-to-5K program online and although I did research it, I decided in the end that it wasn't for me.  I needed to go a bit faster than that and see a little more progress week to week.  I was never on the couch; the kids didn't allow me to be. But I was no runner either.

I guess you could say I made up my own program.  It was called RUN UNTIL YOU CAN'T ANYMORE.   GET MAD BECAUSE YOU DIDN'T MAKE IT VERY FAR AND RUN SOME MORE. STOP.  MAKE SURE YOU GO FURTHER THE NEXT TIME.  It was a little painful at first because I felt like giving up right away but I set little landmark goals for myself such as "I just need to make it to that white sign...."  that worked surprisingly well.  What worked even better was when my pregnant sister-in-law came to visit one weekend in March and insisted that we go running.  I couldn't be shown up by a pregnant woman, could I?  Come on now.  And no, it didn't matter that she was in the military and in top shape.

By mid-March was was running a mile and a half without any pain or heavy breathing.  I signed up for my first 5K to take place on May 13th.  I told myself I had two months to double my distance. The weather was getting better and I was feeling healthier.  Things were looking up.

Then, for some crazy unknown reason, I decided that I would accomplish my goal of running 3.1 miles while I was still 32.  That meant I had until April 16th. Only one month!!  It was pretty thrilling because several people had told me my new goal was unrealistic, which provided much-needed fuel for the fire.  I would do it come hell or high water!  Running at night helped because the temperature was cool and I was more relaxed.  I got out there 3 or 4 times a week and pushed myself to run just a bit (even a tiny bit, like two houses) further than the time before.  Before I knew it, I was running two miles without stopping.

On the night of April 15th (one day before my birthday), I successfully ran 3.1 miles. I believe I finished around 9:45 PM and literally crawled the rest of the way home. My body was shaking and I was speechless.  I had set out to run a 5K before I turned 33 and had actually done it.  Running had once been on my f*** it list and was now being crossed off my bucket list. Please excuse the profanity (or fake profanity with symbols) but there is no other way to describe how much I loathed running.

I'll admit that I did slack off just a little after my birthday but got back on the running wagon at the end of April.  I ran 3.1 miles two more times before my race on May 13th.  The day of my race brought pouring rain with no sign of stopping but God generously pushed away the clouds and sun shone down on us the last half of the 5K.  Ok, so the sun was pretty intense and maybe a tad much but I suppose it was better than showers.  Hard to run soaking wet, ya know?  The man in charge said there are usually 100 people who show up for these races but that day there were only 20.  It was Mother's Day and very wet, so we understood the low turnout.  Only the die-hards and I came to run. I knew right away that I couldn't let myself become intimidated by my fellow runners.  They looked fierce and wore those weird 5 finger Vibram shoe things.  They had bicycles strapped to the backs of their vehicles and I overheard a few of them talking about how this was the 3rd 5K they'd done today.  Must not become intimidated...must not become intimidated.....


"Runners take your mark, get set, go!!"  And they were off.  Almost every last one of them.  There were a few behind me but it was hard to remember that while watching the blur in front of me whiz by, nearly out of sight before I rounded the first corner.  Man, they were quick!  One guy ended up completing the race in 17 minutes.  I was only halfway through at that point!

The race was truly mind over matter and the encouraging people at the checkpoints helped a lot as well. I just kept telling myself I could do it and I would finish no matter what.  Time wasn't important; I just needed to continue to run.  I tried to focus on landmarks again, like I did while practicing.  I made sure my favorite songs were in queue in my MP3 player.  One foot in front of the other...

One of the most exhilarating feelings was seeing my husband's smiling face as I crossed the finish line (long after the majority of the runners, I might add).  I was not last but darn close to it.  Oh well; it didn't matter.  I had accomplished something I never in a million years thought I'd be able to do. Running had become somewhat pleasurable. There were muscles in my legs that I never had before!

My new goal is to run my next 5K in less than 34 minutes.  Oh wait, have I become one of THEM now???    ;)












Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Double Standard

I decided to log off of Facebook around noon this afternoon because I was becoming more and more discouraged by the posts/comments/pictures in my newsfeed.  Like everyone else, I had heard about the outcome of the vote in North Carolina.  The majority of voters voted against gay marriage.  We live in a country where we have a right to vote and make our voices heard.  It was wonderful to find out that so many residents of NC exercised that right.  As with any vote, the majority rules and people have to be accepting of the fact that the result might not be in their favor.  We all win some and we all lose some.  There will be more elections and more chances to be heard.

Instead of expressing sorrow and disappointment in the results, an overwhelming number of my FB friends decided to openly bash anyone they believed was responsible for this "tragedy."  As you can guess, at the top of the list were Christians, namely Catholics.  It started with sayings such as, "North Carolina:  where you can marry your cousin. Just not your gay cousin" and calling the people of NC "close-minded bigots."  The name-calling escalated to include several combinations of curse words and statements about how the Bible means nothing, God's law has been watered down, and people should be able to do whatever they want to do, regardless of morality.

Up to that point, I could take it.  It was no different from other careless remarks I'd heard before.  People don't always think before they speak or write. I get that.  Because religion isn't important to them, they don't care that others might be sincerely offended by their words.  They don't seem to realize that when God flows through your veins, it's impossible to separate Him from the rest of your life.  It would be like cutting off an appendage.  People want to hear a stance against a moral issue that doesn't involve religion; I challenge them to throw a baseball without an arm.

Around noon I stumbled upon a picture of a cartoon Jesus hanging from a cross with the words "gay rights" scribbled across his chest.  What utterly cruel, intention, cuts-to-the-bone mockery to a Catholic, who holds the cross in such high regard.  How dare they?  HOW DARE THEY?

I understand that people are upset that the majority of residents in NC still have a strong moral compass but that doesn't give anyone permission to be downright nasty towards anyone who believes in Jesus. It was a low blow.  It does nothing to help the cause.  It certainly doesn't create dialog between believers and non-believers.  If anything, it causes people to shut down, much like I did today on FB.  I was disgusted and felt that if my newsfeed was going to be clogged up with hateful garbage, I was better off without it.

I have never and would never post offensive comments about gay people, gay marriage, gay civil unions, etc.   I happen to believe that marriage should be reserved for a man and a woman and that the sanctity of marriage should be held in the highest esteem. Biologically, men and women have "parts" that fit perfectly together.  They complement one another.  The natural purpose of sex is procreation.  We were wired to want to have sex (hence sex being enjoyable) so that our species could continue.  Yes, we could have sex with any person, animal, thing, we desire but that doesn't change the original purpose for sex.  I also believe that sex should be reserved for marriage.  Sex outside of marriage devalues the sacrament and lessens the importance of the union between husband and wife.  Unfortunately in our society, marriage has been reduced to quickie celebrity weddings that last 70 hours, cheating left and right, and people who kick their spouse to the curb when things get a tad bit challenging or boring.  Where's the commitment?  What happened to 'till death do us part?  It has gone by the wayside.  We have normalized feelings of lust.  We have adopted a "do anything that feels good" mentality.  We try before we buy.  God isn't in the bedroom anymore (or we try to convince ourselves He is not).  All this so we can do whatever we want without the feelings of guilt that creep in from time to time.  And the more people on board, the better.  But that doesn't make it a marriage.

Yes, I'm hung up on semantics.  I value marriage so deeply and I respect those couples who have stuck it out through thick and thin and are still happily together, honoring their commitment to marriage. To call my relationship with my sister a "marriage" would be wrong.  A relationship between two friends is not a marriage.  A relationship between a parent and a child is not a marriage.  A relationship between a caregiver and a patient is not a marriage.  Let's call it what it is. Let's use the proper term.  We know what a marriage was designed to be and all I'm asking is that we stay true to that.  Anything that deviates from marriage is not "less"...it's just not marriage.

I'm traditional.  I'm old-fashioned.  But I am not a bigot.  I am not a hypocrite.  I do not resort to name-calling when interacting with someone whose beliefs are different from my own.  Why must it be done to me?  Why must I be bombarded with hurtful pictures and belittling remarks when I log onto FB?  I always try to use my page as a medium for conversation and there has been much successful dialog between friends on opposite sides of the spectrum. I'm proud of that.  But today things crossed the line.  The blame, ridicule, and nastiness were uncalled for.

I'm hoping tomorrow will be a better day.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

"Why Don't You Work?"

I walked into Bobby's preschool at 11:00 like I do every Monday and Thursday morning.  He'd been there since 7:30 and it was time to pick him up.  His classmates seemed extra bouncy this morning, and it made me wonder if they'd done anything out of the ordinary.  All of a sudden I felt a tug at my shirt.

"Bobby's mommy....why don't you work?"  I glanced down at Kinsey's precious little inquisitive face.  Another student, Audrey, chimed in.

"Yeah, how come you don't have a job like my mom?"

The logical part of my brain understood that their questions were reflective of 4-year-olds' natural curiosity but the emotional part felt a bit defensive.  I wanted to respond, "What do you mean, why don't I work?  I work harder as a Stay-At-Home-Mom than I ever did at any of my previous jobs.  It's 24/7 with no vacation and no sick days! And I haven't slept well in four years!!"   Unfortunately I didn't have a chance to answer because the teacher signaled to the class that it was time for lunch.  And it was also time for me to join her in the office for a parent-teacher conference to discuss Bobby's state testing results.

Anyone who's ever had a parent-teacher conference with two young children present knows how crazy it can be.  Some of your attention is on the teacher (who's explaining extremely important information) but most of your focus is on your children (who are yanking books off the shelf, hiding staplers, throwing erasers, or playing in the garbage can).

What I managed to gather from Bobby's teacher in between re-shelving books and redirecting my Curious George-esque children was that this particular test was administered in February to all of the 3-year-olds in the school.  It covered twenty areas including: gross motor skills, fine motor skills, sequencing, spacial relations, patterns, predicting, identification, matching, and rhyming. Bobby's score was broken down like this:

2/20 questions= on a 4-year-old level
13/20 questions= on a 5-year-old level
5/20 questions= on a 6-year-old level

He was 3 at the time and scored above age/grade level on every question of the test.  I was very impressed!   The teacher told me one of the test questions was, "What would you do if you walked into a dark room?"  An age-appropriate answer would've been, "I'd turn on the light."  or "I'd be scared." Apparently Bobby said something to the effect of, "I'd pull my art desk over to the light switch, stand on it to turn on the light, push my desk back to where it belongs, and then find my train track under my bed.  I like to set up the track the way Daddy does so that it looks like an 8...."   He went on and on, giving the teacher much more information than she needed/expected.  There's a rubric to score these types of open-ended questions and the content of his answer matched something a 6-year-old might say.  

I know every parent brags about his/her child and I'm no exception.  Bobby has always been intelligent in my eyes but it's reassuring to hear it from someone else (who's not family).  In a way, it validates my decision to stay at home and raise my children.  I've worked with Bobby out of workbooks since he was 2 and 1/2 years old.  We do puzzles, flashcards, and constantly talk about what's going on around us and why.  I'm a teacher by trade and I love being able to teach my own children every day.  It's hard work and tiring at times, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Bobby's classmate asked me this morning why I don't work.  Now I know how to respond.  I may not have a traditional job with a paycheck but I'm doing the best I can with what I have.  And it seems to be paying off.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Game Theory and Renting a House

The most recent chapter of my economics class covered the different types of competition that exists between the two pure forms of perfect competition and monopoly. Requisite to the topic was a discussion on game theory, which seems to have an application in a housing dilemma we are facing.

Basically, game theory is a way to observe the behavior of participants in an oligopoly, where there are few producers competing for greater market share--fundamentally what our entire upper echelon of our economy is. However, it has applications to any situation in which 2 parties with opposing interests have interdependent decisions.

We are in a house, rented at a low rate, but not maintained well by the owner. Our lease is up in roughly 7 weeks but renews monthly at that point, terminable by either party with 30 days notice. Rentals are hard to come by in this area, and finding a house of similar size at a comparative rate will be difficult.

Meanwhile, this street has had several houses demolished over the last year or two to make room for more parking for the nearby college.

Does the landlord have plans to sell this house for potentially more than it is worth as a residence when our lease is up? If so, can we find an alternative home with just 30 days notice? Will an extra 3 weeks of searching give a significant possibility of finding somewhere else to live with little change to our expenses?

If the landlord does not intend to sell, do we unnecessarily seek out a new place at a potentially greater expense? Or, do we risk being homeless after 30 days of fruitless searching should the assumption that he does not intend to sell is incorrect?

Our dominant strategy? We're moving (again)! Don't know where, don't know when, but why is clear enough. Stay tuned for another adventure...


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Wisdom of 33

Usually when you celebrate a birthday, you don't feel any different than you did the day before.  Although that's the case with me most of the time, this year was an exception.  I'm not sure why but I truly feel older since turning 33 two weeks ago.  It's so easy to look at the negatives of aging but I've chosen to put a positive spin on it instead.  Certain situations from my past have popped into my mind recently and I've been able to examine them with a new perspective, often identifying exactly what I would do differently if I found myself in that boat today.  I believe this type of self-reflection is healthy, assuming one doesn't become obsessive about trying to change that which has already happened. Gotta live in the present, you know?

Had I known then what I know now, I would have...

-never left my job at St. John of God.  I quit because I wanted to make more money and the way to do that was to teach in a public school.  What I didn't realize at the time was that with the higher public school paycheck comes added politics, crazier students, unnecessary red tape, limits on creativity, and more of a "factory" mindset when it comes to the teaching process.  Get 'em in and ship 'em out.  At St. John of God, I had the sweetest students, top-notch, compassionate co-workers, the freedom to teach using non-traditional methods that worked better than any state standards ever did.  

-been more empathetic when dealing with parents.  At the time I was not a parent and had no idea what kinds of struggles parents go through when it comes to raising kids.  I wouldn't have been as annoyed when parents kept me waiting because I would've realized that they probably had 2 other kids to drop off/secure babysitters for before coming to my meeting.  If they forgot to return my call or email, I wouldn't have been frustrated because I would've understood that getting back to me was not a priority.  After all, I was not hurt, lost, scared, starving, or bleeding from the eye.  I could wait until after they dealt with more pressing issues.

-been more confident in my teaching ability.  I spent so many weekends (ALL weekend) creating lesson plans. I missed out on many birthday parties, family gatherings, etc. because I had to do lessons. And what do I remember looking back now?  Not the lessons!  But the memories made with family would've lasted forever.  The truth is, I could have delivered quality lessons without spending so much time on every little detail.

-chosen to buy a less expensive house as a first-time home buyer.  And I would've tried to find a house that we could afford on Rob's salary alone, knowing that I would be staying home with the kids for a few years and not bringing in any money.

-understood that some friends are not meant to be in my life forever and let them go.  "If you love somebody, set them free...."      You can't force a friend to stick around if he/she wants to leave.  Circumstances, feelings, and needs change.  It hurts but it's part of life.

-never assumed I'd live near family forever.  I swore up and down that Jenna would be the one to live far away.  She loves to travel and it seemed only natural that she'd end up across the country or further.  And yet, here I am, 1,000 miles away....

-felt the need to explain/defend each and every parenting decision I made with my oldest.  I should have had enough confidence in myself as a mother to simply tell them, "This is the way I do things" and have that be enough.

-taken church and CCD a lot more seriously as a teenager.  I was not at CCD to scope out cute boys and church was not about checking out who was wearing what when they went up for communion.  So much knowledge about my faith was available to me but I was not mature enough to handle it.  Or maybe I was but needed to change my attitude towards it.

-started running sooner!  It's a lot better than I ever imagined.  Who would've thought??!

-visited a few more countries while studying abroad in France.  We managed to hit Spain, Italy, and Switzerland but I could have made it further had I traveled with different groups.



It's important to note that these are not regrets but instead, reflections on my thinking now vs. then.  Life is short and every experience gives us valuable tools with which to face the next step in the journey.  I truly believe I live more in the present now than I ever did before.  It's not about racing to the finish line.  I am in no hurry for my kids (or myself, ha ha) to grow up.  I want to savor every moment so that when I look back on the course of my life, I can honestly feel like a participant and not an onlooker.  So yeah, 33 is not *old* but I feel a sense of wisdom that I never felt before.  And I'm excited to see where that wisdom will take me.

It may sound strange but in some ways, I feel like my life is only just beginning....





-

Friday, March 23, 2012

Facebook or Fakebook?

A few months ago, one of my best friends joined Facebook. I was thrilled because it'd be another way for us to keep in touch (since we moved, we now live 1000 miles from each other so I'm looking for any and every way to stay connected). You can imagine my disappointment to learn that she deactivated her account a week later. When I asked why, she responded, "Facebook makes me upset and angry." Hmmm.....what? How? And in the span of a week? I was confused but didn't want to push and decided it was best to just let it go.

But it never fully went.

For the past few months, I've been reading a lot of articles about the effects of social networking on the people who use it. I'm not on Twitter, SchoolFeed, LinkedIn, or the seemingly millions of others out there but I am pretty addicted to Facebook. In fact, I think the longest period of time I've ever gone without Facebook is one day. Pretty sad, huh? I got to thinking, what is it about Facebook that keeps me coming back for more day after day? Having recently moved, Facebook is an excellent way to keep in touch with friends back home. But so is phone calling, texting, email, and Skype. Why do I choose Facebook over the others? I think it's because 90% of the time, I'm NOT on Facebook to keep in touch with old friends. I'm on it to read what's going on in the lives of people I haven't seen in 20 years, see pictures of people's grandkids that I've never met, read complaints about dogs peeing all over furniture or how much someone hates his job, watch videos labeled "funny" but do not make me laugh (or even smile), and keep up on the latest celebrity or political gossip. Definitely time well spent, wouldn't you say?

The reality is, I have no way of knowing how much truth there is in what anyone writes on Facebook. The people who claim they're on top of the world with a wonderful spouse, three beautiful, well-behaved kids, two cats in the yard, a fantastic job, money out the wazoo, 75 degree weather every day, and zero stress or problems may in fact be telling the truth but who really knows? If life is truly that amazing, kudos to that person. That's awesome. But more realistically, some of what he's posted is sugarcoated. I'm noticing a lot of people post what they wish would happen instead of what is really happening. I'm not judging....just wondering why not post the truth?

I've found that the posts I make about silly or crazy things my kids do get much more attention than anything else. I believe that is because other parents can relate. It's nice to know your kids aren't the only ones who act up, you know? ;) I have no problem being honest on Facebook or in real life. What you see is what you get. Rob and I do not live the perfect life- far from it- but we're making the most of what we have and we're happy. That should count for something.

In some of the articles I've read, people mention that reading about others' lives makes them feel inadequate about their own. "Why don't I own a mansion like Todd?" "Why aren't I making six figures like Sandra?" "How come my kids don't go to top-of-the-line private schools?" "Why aren't I beautiful and thin like the girls from high school?" So instead of accepting where they're at in life and working to their fullest potential, they're wasting time being envious of others. And we don't know if what they've read about others is even true!

I guess what I'm saying is that while Facebook is a terrific way to keep in touch with people, there are aspects of it that aren't so positive. I'm tired of the political garbage and the whining. I'm tired of the comparisons. I'm tired of the gravitational pull it seems to have on me when my time should be spent on other, more productive tasks. And I'm tired enough to do something about it. I've decided to unplug for the weekend and see how much more I'm able to get done and how my mood changes. Is discovering what color Tina painted her nails crucial to my happiness in life? I think not. We'll see what happens on Monday.

Oh, and I'm very aware that this blog entry will automatically post on Facebook since we have the two pages connected. Gotta laugh at the irony of that. ;)



Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Best Valentine's Day EVER!

It started off as any normal day would, with the exception of a brief "Happy Valentine's Day" to Chanel before getting up for the day. Well, and except for the 3:00 coughing fit Thing 1 had, requiring a dosing of meds, as he gets over the bronchitis he and his brother have. All well and good, I walk out the door on time and head to my car.

The car didn't start.

No problem, it needs a new battery. It's had this issue before and once I jump it I'll be on my way. It's just a matter of backing up the van onto the lawn next to the driveway and hooking up, right? Negative, positive, negative positive, give it a minute...turn the key and...nothing. Give it another minute. Nothing. Just a few more. Nothing.

OK, off to Walmart to pick up a new battery with the van. Find the one I need, $120 later, I'm calling a coworker to let her know I won't be attending the 8am meeting while driving home.

Changing out a car battery is a fun challenge for the uninitiated. The bolts are usually rusted, there's the slight danger of electrocution, and you never have quite the right tools for the job. I managed through with what I had and may have given my wrist a slight strain on the way. With the battery installed, I go to fire it up. Nothing.

Crap.

Back in the house, I'm putting my tools away as I hear Thing 1 ramble on about something. Being the awesome father I am, I didn't think much of it or listen to exactly what he was saying, figuring he's down the hall in one of the kids' rooms playing with their mom. I head that way to let Chanel know the problem wasn't the battery.

Wait a sec. Thing 2's room is closed. Oh, yeah, it's about nap time for him; Chanel's rocking him to sleep. Thing 1 is still rambling on. Where is he? His voice is coming from the bathroom. What's he saying? "I pooped everywhere."

Crap.

Apparently, the little guy, while urinating, decides that he needs to poop as well, right where he stood. When I found him, he was standing next to the sink, one poop-covered foot lifted in the air, poop-filled pants and underwear around his other ankle, poop smushed into one bath rug, another turd sitting on the floor, and more smeared across the other rug. While I'm cleaning him up, he's giving me the run-down of what happened in a voice that sounded like he was disappointed in himself, making it impossible to be mad at him. "I was peeing and suddenly I had to poop. I pooped everywhere. There's poop on that rug, and there's poop on the floor, and there's poop on my foot, and my leg, and on the other rug." Of course, when finished explaining, he would repeat it again from the beginning, as little kids do.

As I'm wiping him up, I get a text from Chanel in the next room: "He's too loud!" Oh, is his talking keeping Thing 2 awake? Would you like to switch? I told her what I was dealing with and surprisingly she didn't want to.

From there the day was somewhat regular: Chanel took the kids to a playgroup while I read a class assignment. They came home, we all had lunch and enjoyed a family nap. The afternoon was full of errands to the bank, Kroger, Lowes, and Walmart. We came home for dinner, wrestle-Daddy time, bath, and bed. Then I was off for a little community service of sorts at the Knights of Columbus hall to work Bingo. True, the afternoon was also peppered with instances where I called into the garage to see how the car was (they hadn't gotten to it yet), but in the quiet moments after I came home and snuggled into bed next to Chanel, I was able to reflect on the fact that my Valentine's Day was spent with my family, having fun and making memories. Despite the rough beginning, it truly was my best Valentine's Day ever.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Who'da Thunk It? My 3-yr-old did!

Since our oldest learned to talk, I've been jotting down some of the funny words/phrases he comes up with. He's downright hysterical without even trying and it's fascinating to be able to catch a glimpse of what goes through a 3-yr-old's mind. Someday I'll put all of the quotes together into some sort of book and surprise him with it when the time is right. But for now, here are snippets of some of our most recent conversations:

Every time we drive to school, we pass this gorgeous house and I go on and on about how perfect it is for us and how I would love to live there. In typical "guy fixes the problem" fashion, Bobby says, "Let's knock on the door and ask nicely if we can have their house. If we say 'please' they will let us have it, right, Mama?"

**********

Bobby: No, David, you can't play this game. You have to be THREE to play. You're only one.
Me: Hmmm....guess I can't play either then. I'm 32, not 3.
Bobby: No, Mama. What I meant was.....you have to be either 3 OR 32 to play.

**********

Bobby: Mama, what are you doing?
Me: I'm highlighting my hair, Bobby. See the box? I want my hair to look like that.
Bobby: (grimacing) I really liked your other hair better.

**********

(while driving home from school)

Bobby: Mama, I want to invite everyone in class to my birthday party.
Me: Well, we've got some time...your birthday isn't until April...
Bobby: I want to invite the boy in the white shirt. What's his name?
Me: I didn't see who was wearing white today.
Bobby: He was wearing a WHITE shirt, remember?
Me: Bobby, I didn't really notice what everyone was wearing today.
Bobby: But he said he wants to come.
Me: How about we figure out the details and THEN invite people, ok?
Bobby: Ok....he ate Cheese-Its for snack today. You know? It was that boy. The one in the white shirt who ate Cheese-Its. NOW do you know his name?

**********

(I hear David start to cry down the hall...)

Bobby: Mama, I don't know why he's crying. I didn't hit him in the back of the head with a car!!

**********

Bobby: Is it tomorrow yet?
Me: Nope, it's today.
Bobby: Now, is it?
Me: Still today, Bobby.
Bobby: But I want to see Grandpa Greg and Grandma Lisa TODAY.
Me: I know, but we have a few things we need to do before that happens, Bobby.
Bobby: Is it Wednesday?
Me: Tuesday. Still Tuesday. And when you ask again in two minutes, it will still be Tuesday...

**********

(a completely naked-for-no-reason Bobby rounds the corner...)

Bobby: Mama, I picked a piece of snot out of my nose but couldn't find a trash can...so I just shoved it back in.

**********

Rob: Bobby, you sound like a broken record when you ask over and over again.
Bobby: What's a record?
Rob: ...you sound like a skipping CD.

**********

Bobby: Come look at the oven, Mom!
Me: Are you helping me cook? Aw, that's sweet, Bobby.
Bobby: No, I want you to find the piece of snot I just put in the oven.

What is the obsession with snot in this house???

**********

Bobby: Mama, I need to you kiss my ear. Somebody kicked it.
Me: What? How'd they do that? Were you on the floor?
Bobby: No.
Me: Well, I don't think anyone is tall enough to get their foot to your ear. How'd it happen?
Bobby: He kicked it with his foot.
Me: Were you bent down?
Bobby: No, standing up. Oh wait, I was laying on the floor.
Me: Ok...what were you doing on the floor?
Bobby: Laying there.
Me: But why?
Bobby: I don't know. I think I was really standing though. I laid on the floor a different time.

**********

Bobby: Mama, when I was a baby, my first words were "Dada", "Mama", and "David."
Me: Well, not "David." He wasn't born when you were a baby so you had no reason to say his name.
Bobby: But he says my name.
Me: Yes...he has a reason to. You didn't.
Bobby: But I DID say "David." Maybe you just don't remember.


Ahhhh.....kids. :)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What Makes a Great Play Area?

Chanel needed a little retail therapy the other day so she packed up the kids and met me at the local Burger King as I came home from work. Even though we rarely eat anything there beyond an occasional milk shake, the kids love the play area and it had just been reopened after a remodel so we were intrigued with what changes may have come.

I got there first and waited for the rest of the family to arrive. Once there, Chanel and I switched cars, I switched shoes (steel toes in BK? not if I need to climb up after someone!), and we all waved as Mama drove away. No tears today because we're at BK!

We walk in and sure enough, there are changes. The room is bigger than I remember, the padding seems fresh, and the padded floor area looks new. What catches the boys' attention most at first, though, even before their shoes came off, was the flat screen TV showing Toy Story 3. Hmm...

They get past that pretty quickly because it's mounted so high that they have to strain to see the image that's poor to begin with from the sun glare coming in, and moved on to the touched-up contraption of steps, webs, and tubes. After climbing for a while and sliding for considerably less, another family comes in: a pair of older boys, perhaps 8 and 10, with their mother.

On the plus side (you don't know that's a pun yet), these boys were not going to be a threat to mine as they passed through the tubes of the climbing contraption. It was pretty clear that these boys didn't come to BK just for the play area and were unlikely to go anywhere near the physically challenging area of the room. Their mom sat at the end of the room where she had a better view of the TV and made herself comfortable taking up the entire bench of the table for "4" while she waited for the food to be delivered.

Side note: when did you stop having to wait for your own food at the counter? It's not fast enough? "Ma'am, this'll be a minute or two, you'll want to sit down." Seriously, that standing was valuable physical exertion that woman desperately needed.

Meanwhile, the older boys fire up the Wii, yes, the Wii, that is attached to the other flat screen TV in the play area. This, unfortunately, does put a stop to the climbing, sliding, running, and spinning that normally takes place in such areas. The magnetic draw of Mariokart, even to be just a spectator, is too strong for toddlers. After the players' food was brought out and they had to rejoin their mother, the demo still had a strong enough attraction to hold the attention of two otherwise physically active little boys.

Good job BK. You ruined your kids' area. I know we'll miss it more than we'll miss the milkshakes.
Nutrition facts about BK Milkshake

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What a ridiculous morning!

By "ridiculous" I mean "I should've just stayed home or, better yet, in bed because the day went downhill shortly after my feet hit the floor..."

Today marked the first day back to reality for us. Rob went back to work, school's back in session, and all of our day-to-day activities started up again. On Tuesdays we attend a play group at the local Lutheran church. The kids love the toys, crafts, music, and of course, snacks! I love the adult company and chat sessions with other stay-at-home moms. Getting the kids out of the house on time is always an adventure but even moreso today because we were out of whack having been away on Christmas break for 11 days. Plus it was COLD. No, seriously. Cold like I didn't think existed in Kentucky. I mean, didn't we move south?? As I walked outside to start up the van, I felt the chill sting my face and my hair froze on impact. Fortunately, we own snowsuits from living in the Northeast so at least the children were warm. But oh how I wish I owned adult ski pants!

Patting myself on the back because we arrived on time, my smile quickly turned to a frown to discover zero cars in the parking lot. Um...ok...really? My name and contact information are on the playgroup's list. No phone call letting me know the group was cancelled today? No email? Not even a quick text? Geez, all the morning hustle and bustle was for nothing. Plus, any parent knows how *wonderful* it feels to have to explain to young children why were are not in fact going where we said we were going.

I was not about to just turn around and go home. I mean, we were dressed, up, and out early. There must be something productive we could take care of, right? Ah....my driver's license! Yes, that's it! I was supposed to get a Kentucky license months ago. I had no idea a person had only 10 days after moving to switch licenses. Rob and I honestly thought we could wait until the NJ ones expired and then visit the DMV. Nope, not the case. Also, there is no DMV here; everything is done at the courthouse. So off we went...

We arrived at the courthouse right when they opened to find a line of people literally wrapped around the place. What the heck??? Oh wait, the office had been closed for the past 5 days. That would explain it. Well, I was there and had already gotten the kids unbuckled, stroller out, etc, so in we went. Because this was not a planned outing, I didn't have the usual entertainment items. I had a few Matchbox trucks and some rice cakes but I knew judging from the line that those were not going to cut it. The kids would become restless soon enough. Luckily the people in line around us got a kick out of the kids throwing pieces of rice cake at each other and laughing about it. Sorry for the mess, Courthouse Staff, but at least the kids weren't screaming.

What seemed like HOURS passed but we were eventually called to the desk. Wait, what do you mean I need 456 pieces of official documentation? Aren't the 234 that I have with me enough??? Ugh. She must be a mother, though, because she said she'd let a few things slide because I had trekked all the way there in the freezing cold with the kids just to get this done. I was ready to slip her some cash for her troubles! Finally, I would get this crazy license and be done with it!

I filled out at least ten pieces of paper while pushing David in the stroller with one hand and playing tickle games with Bobby in the other (after all, all mothers have 3 hands). The lady busily transferred all of my information from paper to computer and then, out of nowhere on a bright and sunny albeit chilly day, the POWER WENT OUT! What????! NO!!!!!!! You have GOT to be kidding me. Everything was lost. Everything. You can imagine my total and utter joy. The kids were definitely not going to wait around while I repeated the entire process again.

So we left.

And I still have a New Jersey license.