Tag Archives: family

What to say, what to say…

I got a tablet when my mini-laptop died. It’s pretty awesome. I can check e-mail, post to social media (or maybe a blog), play some games, and of course get some work done. Working for PartyLite, the majority of my “business” is done via email and social media anyway. But it started getting a little tedious. See, tablet = no keyboard. And I’m not really in love with typing on a screen, even though Ido it all the time on my phone. In fact, I was content to do work on my phone because the tablet keyboard was uncomfortable. What I wanted was one of those nifty external keyboards. But they were on the expensive side– nothing available for less than $70. That’s kind of demanding as a gift, and definitely not an amount I’d be willing to spend on myself.

Tonight, the Hubs comes home, having stopped at BJ’s on his way (the milk prices alone are with the membership fee!) and announces that he has a present for me. In his bag. He opens the bag.
Bananas– that wasn’t the gift.
Kids’ vitamins– that wasn’t the gift.
The he pulls out a box and hands it to me.
A Bluetooth-enabled keyboard. It was on clearance. Less than $30.

I’m totally digging it. So much so that I had to write a blog post.

Here’s to getting more stuff done.

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#Sorrynotsorry

Have you seen this hashtag? I see it on Twitter quite a bit. At first it bugged me. Being overtly unapologetic isn’t really my style, so reading someone say something they know is unpopular and possibly offensive and then using a hashtag like this to practically dare others to not be offended… ugh, it’s just too much. Leave the provocateur stuff to the professionals (like Joan Rivers– she’s been using hashtags since before they were pound signs!). And then other people were using it for no real reason. “Ate a hot dog today. #SorryNotSorry” Um, whaaaa? Unless that hot dog was made from real dog, lady… #RelaxYourFace.

Then I started to realize why people were using it. Because the word “sorry” is one of the most incorrectly used words in the English language these days (“opinion” is a close second). To this day I remember a HS friend who would start most of her statements with, “I’m sorry, but…” or “No offense or anything, but…” It’s like a huge neon sign flashing the words, “I’M ABOUT TO PISS YOU OFF!!” I wonder what ever happened to her…

And then, when people have no reason to be sorry, they use the word anyway. Here– take a look:

At the risk of sounding like a non-woman… women talk like that? Blech! Why?!?!

I got a friend request on Facebook a few days ago from a name I didn’t recognize. Now I’ll admit that I’ve met a lot of people and I don’t remember all their names. So I gave the guy the benefit of the doubt and asked him if I knew him. I was pretty sure I knew what the answer was going to be, since the only info I could get from his page aside from his name was that he was “In a Complicated Relationship” (red flag, much??). His response was something along the lines of “no, Dear. I just want to get to know you.” I don’t think he intended it to resonate with the “I’m middle aged and horny! I’m here to pick up chicks online!” skeeviness. But…ew.

And damned if I didn’t almost start my response with “Sorry, but…”

What did I have to be sorry for? That it’s not 1998? That this isn’t MySpace? That I’m not some naive 18 year old who thinks being “Facebook popular” is the pinnacle of social success? I know every single person on my Facebook friend list. I knew them in HS or college. They’re extended relatives. They’re networking contacts. That’s just how I roll on Facebook. So I replied, “no thank you. I’m only friends with people I actually know.”

Short. Polite. Unapologetic.

Here’s to not saying words that we don’t mean.

(Yessiree, Mr Yankovic– I hate them, too.)

Ah! I feel weefweshed!

(Quote: Lilly Von Shtupp, “Blazing Saddles.” I’m generally of the opinion that the late great Madeleine Kahn really had a speech impediment and any role where she didn’t speak with one was her acting.)

We recently returned from our annual beach vacation. Some people might say a week with the in-laws doesn’t sound like much of a vacation, but that’s never been the issue. For me, it’s been a week in a different house with my children. As a Stay-At-Home-Mom, that is Not. A. Vacation. That’s just… relocation. In the past, I’ve honestly not been all that psyched about going. But the kids love it, so I never said anything.

That’s when I remembered my New Year’s Resolution– speak up more, be more honest. I can pretty much peg one occasion a month where I’ve heeded my own advice and it has yet to lead me astray. It’s as they say: Honesty is a positive course of action that yields satisfying results. (Ok, “they” say it in a more slant rhyme fashion, but where’s the fun in that?)

So I spoke to the Hubs about why I wasn’t all that excited to go to the beach house. That he spends the whole week with his nose in his Kindle. That I have to encourage the kids to get away from the TV and hit the beach. That I’m the one to feed, diaper, escort, and discipline the kids. And I can do all that for a lot less money by staying home.

Well! Miracle of miracles, my honesty paid off. By the time we’d settled in that first day, we’d eaten at two restaurants already so we agreed on sandwiches and chips for dinner. I got Pint Size Genius his sandwich and took it to the table for him to start eating. When I turned around, there it was: the Hubs, making Toughie his dinner.

Now you should know– and if you don’t, let me put it on the record here– the Hubs is not derelict in Daddy duties. He often feeds, clothes, escorts, medicates, diapers, and disciplines. He just treated our vacation as his vacation… from all that. And that don’t work for me.

The rest of the week continued in that same vein. Too many requests from the kids used to get the response, “Ask [parent that I am not]” from both of us. Not this time.

So the vacation went better than usual. Although I’m still considering a “girl’s day out” to a beach… where day drinking is acceptable and I don’t have to change a diaper.

Here’s to speaking up and being rewarded with a good time.

Win the battle, the war might follow

This is effectively the first real day of Summer Vacation. So far, books and magazines have been read, laundry has been prepared, tables have been cleaned, and a bed has been made.

I made a list of little chores that can be done almost every day and put them in a bowl. In order to get computer time, five of those chores must be finished. The boys finished all 5 each in about 2 hours. But the best part was that no one minded doing the chores and earning the time. At our current rate, all the boys will use their computer time by lunch. If they want more computer time, or some time on the Wii, they can do more chores after lunch. I also love that I don’t feel as guilty about letting them play games since they did something productive first.

Here’s to keeping up the good work.

Ruh roh…

(NOTE: I wrote this entry last week but something went wrong with the Auto-Save feature. I’m going to try to replicate it as best I can…)

While sitting in the Auditorium waiting for The Hubs to arrive and The Regulator’s Spring Concert to start, I had a rather startling realization:  there were only two weeks left to the school year.

If you lived anywhere– let’s face it, anywhere— this past winter, you’d agree that it didn’t feel as though the school year was ever going to end. But it is, and as usual, I feel woefully unprepared.

I had had such high hopes for this summer– vacations, day trips, and a move to a glorious house in suburbia. But alas, this was not to be. I’ve been tutoring here and there, but it doesn’t pull in all that much. The big vacation is already paid for, but aside from that, I’ll have to wait and see if I land a work-from-home gig that Mrs. Legal Lawyer told me about. If I don’t get that… well.  Can’t feel sorry for myself if that’s the result.

I always say that I’ll get the kids working on their basic skills and reading like crazy over the summer, but that doesn’t really happen, either. The Regulator needs to improve his handwriting like woah, and they could all use more trips to the library. The Hubs and I love books, but we really can’t afford to be buying all of them! The Summer Reading Program at town libraries is pretty great, but we just haven’t been able to keep up  with the assignments. I think we need to spend more time there and get the boys a little more familiar with their reading interests and limitations (why am I bringing home 6 novels per kid?).

And even though we’re not moving, it’s not too early to start preparing. I intend to  start tossing all the stuff we don’t need, maybe even selling what we can. Who knows? We might even be able to be a little happier in the space we have when there’s less stuff in it. We have a storage unit and most of that stuff hasn’t seen the light of day in a couple years!

The Regulator is also transitioning to *gasp* MIDDLE SCHOOL. I hear tell the 5th grade is one of the toughest years in our school system. Probably just as well that we’re not moving anywhere… he’s not one to handle stress. I want to prepare him, though: study skills, note taking, organization. Things that will make the actual content a non-issue (which it pretty much is– he’s above average intelligence-wise and I have the objective test results to prove it).

There’s always swimming and soccer, and maybe if we can squeeze in a day trip, it’ll be a grand time. Anything to keep them from being plugged in all damn day.  Anything to keep them from making a royal mess of our home.

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Oh… if I use this. Poor boys won’t know what hit them! They’re downright lucky we don’t have a pet (or a farmstead, for that matter… how the heck old is this list?!?!).

Here’s to family fun and making memories.

Adventures in girlyness

I have three boys. I got used to the idea that I was going to be a mom of boys. That I would be potty training boys. That I would be dressing boys. Giving boys crew cuts and fauxhawks. That my laundry baskets would be full of blacks, blues, greens, and grays.

Then I had a girl.

I didn’t set out to fill my world with pink and ruffles. I don’t care much for gender issues– my children can like and do whatever they like and want to do– but I can’t help but enjoy the different-ness of a girl after three boys. The vast majority of Buttercup’s clothes were hand-me-downs and gifts, and they were just so pretty!
I let Buttercup’s hair grow out and am setting about learning how to do different things with it. The boys like their hair short.
All my kids like beaded necklaces. Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s, 4th of July… they’re just fun. But only Buttercup puts them on whenever she finds them and walks around saying “pree-yee,” which I assume means “pretty.” I didn’t teach her that: it came to her naturally.
I never thought I would have to figure out how to be a mom of a girl. I was quite sure I wouldn’t be good at it. And I was certain I didn’t want a little me. But it wasn’t entirely up to me, was it?
So if I can get the girl to sit still, I’ll attempt a French braid. Wish me luck!
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Meh…it’s a start.

Here’s to letting children be themselves. Because they are awesome.

Changing it up

I have the sinking feeling that I say the same stuff over and over. Is it always about Crock Pots and cleaning? Weight and weird music?
Talking about the kids, that’s the most important thing to me. They’re kind of my true audience. I don’t think I always show them that even the smallest things they do are important to me. But they are… which is why I chronicle them here. Or, why I should be chronicling them here.
So here’s to a new page getting turned.  Or in this case, a new Web page getting refreshed.

It started with a bookcase….

Yesterday was The Regulator’s birthday (Double digits!! Woop Wooooop!!!) And every year I tell my kids how they were born. So here’s his story:

I got pregnant about 2 months after getting married. People think that’s weird, maybe even wrong. I was in my early 20s, teaching at an all-girls school for not-a-lot-of-money, and the Hubs was working part-time at the local supermarket, having just lost his job. We lived in a dinky one-bedroom apartment over some lady’s garage. But the boy was on his way (not that we knew it– he wouldn’t show us “the goods” at any of our ultrasounds) and we had to do what we could. Thankfully a lot of stuff fell into place: we found a great 2-bedroom apartment in a nice suburb for a good price; the Hubs got a full-time job with benefits; the raise at the all-girls school kept me going another year; and even a premature baby was healthy and happy.

The day before I went into labor, I looked at the bookshelf in the living room and wanted to scream. See– the Hubs and I love books. A lot. In the “olden days” before the Kindle, we had to buy books that we loved and store them on shelves. But we have So. Many. Books. And they were in no order whatsoever. The Hubs had sort of just thrown them up on the shelves when we moved in, and while it was something that always bothered me, I realized that day that something had to be done. I took down all the books, sorted them by author and divided hardcover from paperback. It took all day, but I was very proud of myself. I went to bed knowing the next day I was going to be taking my students to see a production of Romeo and Juliet. But baby had other plans…

I woke up in the middle of the night, feeling… ick. Nothing hurt, no fever or anything– I just had to use the bathroom except it didn’t feel like having to use the bathroom. I soon realized that my water must have broken. I wasn’t due for another month, so I quickly proceeded to freak out. Called the doctor, who asked about contractions, of which there were none. So he told me to try to get more sleep and meet him at the hospital in the morning. I packed a bag (with stuff I never used, as most women will tell you) and tried to sleep. Yeah– that worked.

Went to the hospital, and the nurse did the usually exam. It was determined that my water indeed had broken, which can create an infection risk for the baby. I was admitted and given a Pitocin IV. If you don’t know, Pitocin will spark contractions, and that’s what I needed. The doctor told us that it wouldn’t be long now. Time, as we all know, is a relative concept. I was in the hospital bed the entire day waiting for the labor to get into high gear. Lemme tell you– it was boring. Like, really boring. Then it was painful… like, really painful. I got an epidural (which didn’t work, btw) and kept at it. It honestly felt like nothing was happening. I was 20 minutes away from a C-section when suddenly it was GAME ON. I was pushing, nurses were monitoring, the Hubs was reassuring, and the doctor was catching. Nearly a full day after my water initially broke, at 12:36 am, I had my first son, all 6 lbs 3 oz. of him.

Since he was premature, there was a concern that his lungs would not be fully prepared to start working. It turned out we had nothing to worry about, since he was screaming within minutes of birth (he started out grunting, which is disconcerting). We all went home two days later, and have been enjoying life as a family ever since.

So Happy Birthday, Regulator. Here’s to all things fair and even. Because that’s the way you like it. 

Outside? You mean, like, in public?

It’s not that I can’t handle going out. It’s not that the kids can’t handle going out.

We just don’t do it all that often.

The kids go to school, I get stuff done around the house, Buttercup takes a huge nap in the middle of the day. The kids come home, undo all the work I’ve done, I make a mess in the kitchen, maybe some of it gets fixed and then we go to bed just to do it all over again. If we’re going somewhere, it’s because we NEED to go somewhere. Soccer practice, groceries, church, games. The Hubs goes to work, I tutor here and there. So yesterday, when I needed to buy face wash (the Hubs and I use the same products), Buttercup and I went to the “Star Department Store” (they don’t need my endorsement, anyway!). It took all of five minutes to get what I needed, and that definitely didn’t justify the 30-minute drive. We had nowhere to be, so we walked the rest of the mall.
(I posted the following on my Facebook, but I would like to take this opportunity to flesh out my thoughts a little bit…)

1) Wow, it’s been a long time since I just walked through a mall. Being a Jersey Girl, many an afternoon during my high school years was spent walking the corridors of nearby malls. My HSBFF (now a sister-in-law) and I would try on dresses with no intention to buy them, eat cheese fries in the food court, and people-watch to our hearts’ content. Many of my dates with the Hubs included walks through malls talking about our future. But since our future included 4 kids and lay-offs, shopping for the sake of was not much of an option. So the mall became a thing of the past.
2) I had no idea that Sur la Table was there (see #1) I probably spent 20 minutes in there, looking at French Presses and silicone baking pads. It also did my heart good to know that I have some seriously nice stuff for my current kitchen, tiny and sorry as it is, since there was nothing in that store that I actually needed (I got a pastry blender a couple weeks ago, which really was necessary!).
3) I couldn’t justify a single purchase aside from the one I actually made, so I only bought that one thing (The other thing I was thinking of purchasing I ended up getting a free sample). I would have LOVED to have gotten ALL the things!! There was an adorable kid-size apron, some clever coffee mugs, and really great cutting boards. But money is a concern.
4) I kinda dig how unabashedly the Disney Store splits its merchandise along gender lines. Princess stuff on the right, Lightning McQueen on the left. I think it just makes it easier to find exactly what you want for a particular kid. Your kid likes Doc McStuffins– boom. Toy Story is your nephew’s fave– bang. It’s fantastic.
5) I would like a new set of pajamas for Mother’s Day–shirt and shorts/capris, please. I saw a nice set as I was leaving the department store. I don’t wear nightgowns, and my pajama pants bunch up around my knees, which is kinda annoying.
6) Jules needs more ‘everyday’ earrings. We’ve lost a couple earrings, so we need new ones that I can put in to “change things up” every so often. I found some, but I just didn’t buy them.
7) I want the earring holes I used to have pierced again. I used to have two in my right ear, two in my left and one more in the cartilage in the top of my left ear. I had custom-made earrings for my wedding. But I was working in Catholic schools, and the number of holes in my ear were a sticking point with my boss, so I allowed the 2nd and 3rd holes to close up. Who am I out to impress now? I liked them; I want them back.
8) My wrist smells like Bath & Body Works Sweet Pea fragrance. And I like it (however, see #3). Seriously: I have spent YEARS trying to use up all the soaps and lotions I own! I gave myself a manicure just to use some products. So I don’t care if you buy one, get 15 free– I’m staying out of that store for a while longer. I don’t even love giving them as gifts– fragrance can be such a personal thing.
9) I stayed away from Old Navy on purpose, because #3 would have most likely gone out the window. I love clothes from Old Navy, and I could probably use a 2nd pair of jeans, or a dress for Toughie’s First Communion, or a new outfit for Buttercup, or extra pants for the Regulator. That’s when I was pretty sure our time at the mall was over.
10) Those KFC Go-Cups are a perfectly reasonable meal. For $2.99, I got 2 chicken tenders and a handful of potato wedges. Add in a lemonade for another dollar, and that’s lunch! Let’s be honest: do we ever NEED all the fries we get in the average fast food meal? I was hungry before I bought it and I was no longer hungry after I ate it. I’d totally get that again.  11) I’m totally doing laundry an hour earlier than yesterday because I got my butt out the door and to the mall. I get sucked into the Today Show and subsequently most other TV shows over the course of the day. But the fact that I really wanted to get to the mall set me off on my day earlier than usual.

Here’s to shopping without buying and buying without guilt.

At God’s Table

As I think I have mentioned before, Toughie was in classes for his First Communion this year. The Mass was on Saturday, and everything went wonderfully. I was a puddle of goo watching him at the altar rail, receiving Communion for the first time, and we all enjoyed a lovely luncheon afterwards.

The day before, the Pastor of our church spoke to the kids about how important this day is to the Faithful. He used as an example the Emperor Napoleon. Apparently, he was asked on his deathbed what he considered the best day of his life. Was it when he conquered this kingdom or that kingdom? When he won this or that battle? No, he replied, the best day of his life was the first time he received Holy Communion.  (Not to be cynical, but it was pretty clear his life was kind of on the downhill by the time he was on his deathbed.) Either way, it’s a good example of how important this moment should be.

Do kids “get it” that this is such a monumental milestone? I don’t think I did when I was his age. That’s probably why other denominations don’t put quite the emphasis on the First Communion that we do, nor do they insist it happen at such a young age. But that’s not why we do it now. They get it now so that they “get” that it’s important and because the mere act of getting it helps them to “get it” more as they get older. I hope that makes sense. It makes sense to me. I just… get it.

Here’s to the spiritual feast– may we always find abundance in ourselves and in each other.