Sunday, August 30, 2009

Oh, that's right -- I have a "real" job, too!

Tomorrow, I officially go back to my other job. (As opposed to my ongoing job, known as "Mommy, Wife, Bill-Payer, Housekeeper, Educator, Dog-Poop-Picker-Upper, Maker-of-all-Important-Appointments, and Family Cook", among other titles.) This job is one that pays me in money, rather than in hugs and kisses (although I occasionally get those, too). This job is one that allows me to step outside of my own life and problems for a while, and to focus on helping others deal with their personal challenges. And, this job is one that makes me feel competent, in control, appreciated, and fulfills me in a completely different way than "Mommy". For about 10 months out of every year, my second job is working half-time as a Certified School Counselor in a middle school. I love my job. I really, really do. Like any job, it has politics, paperwork, long meetings, and other frustrating aspects. But, I love helping these kids, whose minds and bodies are in a constant state of chaos and confusion, overcome the obstacles that are in their way. I love helping frustrated, scared, stressed-out parents navigate these tricky years and adjust to their childrens' rocky entrance into adolescence. I love working with caring, motivated, dedicated teachers to figure out how to work with kids who need extra support and ideas and unique ways of being reached. And, I believe that, for me, being a working Mom has made me a better Mom and a more fulfilled, happy person, overall. (Wow, I'm sounding kind've New-Agey here, aren't I?) With that said, I face this yearly transition from summer vacation back to work with mixed feelings (primarily GUILT, in spite of the fact that this isn't simply a choice -- it's a financial necessity). I look at the beautiful faces of my sons, and I know that there will be fewer hours in each day spent playing with them, reading with them, having tickle fights with them, teaching them, learning from them, ooh-ing and aah-ing over gross things with them, and laughing with them. On the other hand, there will also be fewer time-outs, fewer instances of losing my mind because they will not stop poking each other every time I turn my back, fewer times when I face a long, rainy day with them and am completely out of ideas as to how to keep us all sane for the next 12 hours... And, I know that my little guys (Foster in the preschool he loves, and Spencer starting - gulp - kindergarten) will be learning new things, having new adventures, making new friendships, developing crucial social skills, and becoming more independent. These are all things any parent wants for their kids, right? SIGH. Doesn't make it any easier to head back to work on that first day. But, I will say this... When I am working, the hours I spend with my boys are more full of adventures, more full of play, and more flat-out fun. Yes, the quality of my housekeeping declines dramatically during the school year. I mean, who wants to spend the short amount of time you have with your kids cleaning, when you could be kicking a ball around in the backyard, or going for a walk, or looking at bugs under a microscope, or playing Pirates? Yes, during the school year we have more dinnertime peanut butter and jelly sandwich picnics and fewer family meals that involve actual cooking. And, yes, I appreciate every smooch, every hug, every tickle fight, every wonderful, creative thought expressed, every story, and every "I love you more than you love me, Mommy," that much more. So, I guess I'm looking forward to work starting up again, afterall. (Except for the 4 boxes full of work stuff I optimistically brought home to work on this summer and haven't opened yet!) Ah, well... For now, my boys and I are off to the playground, to spend our last day of summer playing, laughing, and loving every moment together. Cheers!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Making The Perfect Blackberry Pie

Anybody who really knows me looked at the title of this post and thought, "What the hell? What is Beth doing writing about pie?!!! She only knows how to cook the same 5 things over and over and over again, and she never bakes unless it's cookies made out of that cookie dough that comes already mixed up in the grocery store or a birthday cake from a box! Something is not right here..." All true, I'm afraid. Part of the reason my blog is called Chicken Nugget Mama, in fact. In my house, cereal is a legitimate dinner entree. So are peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. (And, not just legitimate entrees, but frequent ones.) For more details about my endless inadequacies when it comes to feeding my kids, you might want to check out: "Don't tell ME ketchup doesn't count as a vegetable!" So, what could I ever possibly have to say about making a blackberry pie that would actually benefit someone trying to bake one? A lot, actually. If you follow the recipe, below, you are guaranteed to eat the best pie you've ever eaten...My promise to you.

1) 2 little boys who really, really, really want to pick wild blackberries on a hot, late-summer day -- "For a pie, Mommy, for a pie!"
2) A husband who loves blackberries, loves pie, and who happens to have seen a bunch of wild blackberry bushes loaded with berries just the other day.
3) A blackberry pie recipe found by googling "Easy blackberry pie" that calls for pre-made pie dough, flour, sugar, butter, blackberries, a little bit of milk, and tapioca for thickening. That's it. 7 ingredients. Totally doable, even for someone as inept in a kitchen as myself.

1) Pack juice boxes, snacks, and toys in the car, because the boys are going to get sick of picking blackberries looooong before you have come close to having enough for a pie.
2) Dress your family in long sleeves and long pants, because wild blackberry bushes are extremely thorny. Note: Do NOT wear those flimsy pants made out of waterproof material that act as a kind of a rain/wind guard you can wear over your shorts or sweats. Guess what? The thorns go RIGHT through them! I have the scars to prove it, and my blackberry picking sounded a lot like this: "Ooooooh, I found the motherlode! Ow! Ouch! Owie! Ouch!" "Hey, sweetie, this bush is loaded with 'em. Bet I'm gonna fill up my container faster than you! Woohoo! Ouch! Ow! Ow! Crap! Ouch!" "Honey, do you think all this blood will make the pie taste funny?" "OUCH!"
3) Spend a good hour or so picking blackberries together. Throw in some singing, some tickling, lots of laughing, some kissing and hugging with your hubby, and make sure to eat almost as many blackberries as you pick, until your lips and tongue are bright purple and berry juice is dripping down your chin.
4) Stop at the store on the way home to get the pie crust and tapioca. Since you don't actually know what tapioca really is (it is not pudding, by the way) spend a long time cruising the isles too embarrassed to ask anyone for help, until you stumble upon it on a top shelf in the baking section, next to a variety of other items you've never heard of. Being somewhat loopy already, from picking berries in the hot sun and consuming all that natural sugar, have a mini giggling fit in the store. Always good for the amusement (or derision) of the other shoppers...
5) Arrive home and get all of the ingredients together and ready to go.
6) Realize that you forgot to get vanilla ice cream to put on the freshly-made pie. Offer to take one of the boys to get the ice cream if hubby and boy #2 will do the actual baking. (SCORE!) Spend an extra 20 minutes in the store, grabbing all the other general grocieries you need, thereby assuring that the pie will be almost ready by the time you return with the ice cream.
7) Return home to the smell of freshly-baked blackberry pie wafting throughout the house.
8) Sit down with the 3 people you love most in the world, each with a heaping helping of freshly made blackberry pie, loaded with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream, and a glass of fresh, cold milk.
9) Participate in an all-around family high-five complete with a loud group cheer. "Woo Hoo!"
10) Dig in to a pie that was truly a family project. A pie that, while a teeny bit runny (probably needed a little more of that tapioca stuff), was quite gorgeous and very, very tasty. And a pie, in which the most important ingredients of all, were laughter and love.

Best. Damn. Pie. Ever.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hey, Mommy, I can see that lady's underwear!

I think yesterday must've been "National Show-Your-Butt-Crack Day." Seriously. My husband, children, and I were subjected to more buttock cleavage in one trip to Costco than I typically run into in an entire semester of counseling in a middle school. (And that's saying a lot, people. Trust me on that one... ) First, there was the 20-something woman sitting at a lunch table right behind my husband, wearing low-rider jeans, with her entire pink Joe Boxer thong visible to the world (and to my youngest son, who was absolutely fascinated by the spectacle). Then, two tables over, there was the well-rounded, 50-something woman, perched on the very edge of her seat with, literally, three-fourths of her ample rear end displayed for all in line at the registers to see, resulting in my older son making the comment that became the title of this post. But, that's not all, folks. Cruising through the store, making sure to hit all the yummy free samples to supplement our lunch, we were subjected to the sight of a middle-aged, portly gentleman bending over the CD/DVD table, his pants just-not-quite-covering his posterior. This was followed by the hand-in-hand teenagers walking in front of us. Her: Sweat pants pulled down extra low, so her underwear (clearly chosen for a certain effect) was pointedly displayed. Him: The same. Nice boxers, dude. Hope you don't have to run anywhere with the crotch of your jeans down at your knees like that. Yeah, good luck if the store catches on fire. It really was one giant butt-fest shopping trip for our little family. And, hey, it's not like anybody who knows me would ever describe me as "easily-offended" or "prim and proper". I just think that people's underwear, and the body parts it covers, should generally be displayed privately, and only with a select, well-chosen few. And, I really don't think my little boys, barely turned 4 and 5, need to be seeing strange, naked butt cheeks in the store, when all we're trying to do is buy some milk and potstickers, y'know? Still, it was kind've good for a giggle. Ahhhhh, life...Cheers!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Miracles DO Happen (or Bribery Works)!

Yes, I bribed them with the promise of a treat at Dairy Queen. Yes, I continue to bribe them with promises of "Fifteen kisses each!" from Daddy when he gets home tonight. Yes, there are parenting "experts" around the world who shudder in revulsion at using bribery to control your child's behavior. And, yes, to these experts I say: "Screw it! It worked today, and that's all that matters right now!" I have spent the last 12 1/2 hours alone with my two little boys, which is, unfortunately, the norm around here thanks to hubby's truly sucky schedule. (I know "sucky" isn't a real word, but it's another one of those that really should be, eh?) Anyway, today my boys and I have had two sword fights, multiple tickle fights, two games of "Mommy, you're a bear. Come and chase us!", a trip to the playground for a picnic and general frolicking, a trip to Fred Meyer for groceries and other stuff, one Disney movie, some coloring, some story reading, and a (highly successful, for once) spaghetti dinner ALL WITHOUT ONE SINGLE TIME-OUT! For anyone reading this who isn't a close friend or family member and, therefore, hasn't witnessed the constant chaos that is life in our little home, this is truly a miraculous occurrence. It means there was no hitting (!), only minimal name-calling (immediately followed by an apology), and very little competition over toys, my attention, or anything else in the house. Nobody burst into tears today. Nobody threw a hissy fit today. (Not even me!) Nobody ended up bleeding or bruised or with a stick in his eye today. And what, you may ask, brought about this miracle? Bribery. The image of a Dairy Queen treat floating around their little minds all day. And, what is keeping the miracle going, now that we are back from DQ and starting the bedtime routine? More bribery. Tons of extra kisses from Daddy when he gets home from work and hears the good news! (Daddy just might be getting something else tonight too, because Mommy's feeling GREAT after this unusually calm day...) So, to all those Moms who somehow manage to have wonderfully well-behaved little kids without ever resorting to the use of bribery -- I salute you. You are no doubt much better mothers than I will ever be, and I wish I knew all of your mysterious parenting secrets. But, to the rest of us, who use bribery from time-to-time to save our sanity -- Cheers!

Marshmallow goo, yellow jacket swarms, and other camping mayhem.

We just survived (and thoroughly enjoyed, actually) our very first whole family camping trip. Woo hoo! (I'm not counting backyard camping, which we've done a couple of times as a "warm-up" for the real thing. I highly recommend that, actually, as a way to see if your kids are really ready. It's a nice gauge of whether or not your kids are going to be the type that all of your camping neighbors detest, because they cry all night in the tent without a night light. Also, it gives you a chance to teach your little ones how to roast marshmallows without setting them -- or themselves, the dogs, or their brother's shirt -- on fire in the process.) So, last week, we packed waaaaaayyyyy more stuff than we needed (I'm one of those anal-retentive types who tries to think of absolutely every single scenario that could happen and packs accordingly, resulting in comments like, "Honey, do you really, really think we need to bring rain coats, rain boots and the waterproof matches? It's supposed to be 89 degrees all week." Whatever, babe. "It rides for free", as my dear ol' Dad always says, and you'll be thanking me when it starts pouring. Which it didn't, by the way...), added one four-year-old-boy, one five-year-old-boy, two big, slobbery, extremely excited mutts, and took off for our campsite, roughly 3 hours away. About 4 1/2 hours later, we arrived at our campsite --After one lunch break, two potty stops, and one stop just so Mommy and Daddy could get a coffee, get the hell out of the car, take a deep breath, and stop themselves from screaming, "If we have to tell you ONE MORE TIME to stop fighting, we are turning this car around and going home!!!" (Something that's very risky to say, because then you have to follow through with your threat, y'know? And we really, really wanted to camp.) Thanks to my overly thorough packing, my boys had tons of toys to keep them occupied while John and I set up camp. Of course, it took them no time at all to abandon their toys and find sticks they could use to hit every stump, rock, and tree trunk in the near vicinity. Whatever. They kept themselves occupied with minimal parental attention and only a few time-outs for hitting each other, rather than an inanimate object. And then the fun began...Actually, the fun didn't begin for me until after I found a bathroom, which you could only get to by winding around a road to the right, taking another right at the next stopsign, then a left, and finally heading past an orange cone, up a little driveway between two campsites. Meanwhile, the boys (all 3 of them) just pee'd by a tree behind our tent. There just wasn't quite enough bush/tree coverage for me to be comfortable doing the same. One of the disadvantages of being female, I guess. I made that bathroom trek, all alone, many, many, many times over the course of our camping trip. SIGH.

My trip highlights: Swimming and playing frisbee with the boys in the icy cold, crystal-clear lake. It was take-your-breath-away-cold at first, but, once you were submerged, it was glorious. Watching my 12-year-old dog, Cosmo, act like a puppy again. I know the old guy won't be around much longer, so it was wonderful to see him having so much fun with our other dog, Lucy -- frolicking and digging and splashing in the water. Roasting marshmallows by the campfire. The boys were so excited and covered with marshmallow goo. Reading bedtime stories and singing songs in the tent, by lantern light, with one giggly little boy snuggled up on each side. Sitting by the fire with my head in my sweetie's lap, watching shooting stars and just talking. No distractions. No electronics. Just the two of us, reconnecting and remembering why we fell in love in the first place. Awesome. Making the hike to the bathroom in the pitch dark, with Spencer holding the flashlight and repeating over and over and over again, "I'm not scared of anything, Mommy. I'm not scared of anything..." Chipmunks that were so tame they'd come right up to you, look you in the eye, and basically demand that you feed them, or else fearlessly jump in your car to rummage through your garbage. Dodging yellow jackets. OK, it's not exactly a highlight, but it was a fact of this trip, and it bears noting (and remembering, for future camping trips). Bee season. Yellow jackets everywhere. One thing I hadn't actually prepared for at all (yellow jackets don't mind citronella candles -- I think they actually like them), so we spent the entire trip hoping no one would be stung. Amazingly, no one was. Speaking of yellow jackets, another highlight was eating a picnic-on-the-floor breakfast in the tent on our last morning to avoid attracting them. We had a bunch of those mini boxes of sugary cereal that come in all different flavors -- A tradition from camping with my family when I was a kid. The boys were over-the-moon to be able to eat the kind of cereal we almost never eat at home. And, I had forgotten how yummy Honey Smacks and Fruit Loops really are. There's a reason kids like 'em. Frankly, they're delicious! Stopping for a picnic lunch on the way home at a closed-up ski resort on the mountain, and then stopping again just to play by a beautiful mountain river at the base of a waterfall. Watching my hubby and boys throwing sticks ("boats") into the little rapids and crawling all over the rocks and boulders, my dogs happily digging in the sand, and just soaking up the beauty of the whole scene. Oh, and there was enough coverage for me to pee in the woods without risk of being seen, so I truly had the entire nature experience!

We came home thoroughly exhausted, totally filthy, covered with unexplained scratches and bruises, and completely happy. We are SO camping again next summer! Cheers!

Saturday, August 15, 2009


So, a few minutes ago, I got back from a rare coffee escape with a friend, and my littlest guy (age 4) was bursting to tell me something he "discovered" while I was gone. He could hardly contain himself, he was so excited. As it turns out, during the hour I was away trying to recapture my sanity, Foster and Daddy were playing around with our alphabet refrigerator magnets, and Fos discovered (with Daddy's help) that if you turn the word "WOW" upside down, it spells "MOM". This was apparently an earth-shattering discovery worthy of dancing up and down, flapping hands with excitement, and squealing with glee. And, y'know, when I really thought about it, with all we mothers do to nurture, stimulate, educate, entertain, and love our kids, it's actually pretty darn cool that "MOM"="WOW" and "WOW"="MOM." That's as it should be. We rock, ladies. We rock. Cheers!

Friday, August 14, 2009

There IS intelligent life in the universe, and it was in my kitchen last night!

Last night was my monthly book club gathering, and it was just in time! Just in time to remind me that, yes, I am still capable of holding my own in an intelligent conversation with bright, accomplished, insightful women. As it turns out, none of the fabulous ladies in my book club have little kids anymore. So, being the only one who is currently immersed in Candyland, Curious George, time-outs, peanut-butter-and-jelly, Dr. Seuss, and general little-boy chaos on a daily basis, I sometimes worry that, in our monthly get-togethers, I will suddenly start rhyming my words, or say something infantile like, "Excuse me, where's your potty? I have to go pee-pee."

Our book last month was "The Nine: Inside the Secret Lives of Supreme Court Justices", and it was fascinating and terrifying and inspiring, and we all agreed that we felt smarter after reading it. And, I am happy to report, I participated in a stimulating discussion about politics and justice and special interest groups and human rights, and I didn't rhyme my words even once!

And now, it's back to my normal life. But, first, I have to go pee-pee. Cheers!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I Really Need "Blogging for Dummies". Please help!

OK, if anybody's reading this -- I am in serious need of some blogging help. I've searched through Blogspot's HELP topics, and I just get more confused than ever. I look at other blogs out there, and they all look so gorgeous and put-together and organized and tech-savvy. I'm so impressed! Seriously. We have so many really wonderful, creative, intelligent women in our world, don't we? Unfortunately, at least when it comes to blogging, I don't appear to be one of them. Just a fan. So many things about blogging truly mystify me. Everyone who knows me well knows that I'm pretty much a techno-phobe and they are all incredibly amazed that I'm actually joining the 21st century and blogging, so I deserve props for that. However, there are some things I really can't figure out, and I'd love a little advice: 1) What the hell is a "blogroll", and why do I need one? I somehow figured out how to put one on my site (following Blogspot's directions), but then I didn't know what to do with it, so I took it off. Is it different than the thingie I have on here where I put in the addresses of some of the blogs I follow regularly? Does it operate itself, or am I supposed to put something in there? Does it automatically put in all the blogs I visit, 'cuz that would be seriously cool. Help! 2) Several people have commented that they can't find a place to email me on my blog. Yeah, that's 'cuz I have no idea how to do that either. 3) Most of the blogs I visit have this thing where they can link back to a previous post, if it's related, or they can write in the name of somebody else who has a blog on their post, and readers can just click on it to go over to their site. You know what I'm talking about? I want that! It's "wicked cool", as my boys would say. OK, last question (for now): One of my readers nominated me for an award (Thanks so much, by the way. You really made my day!), and I was supposed to somehow link that award back to my site and answer some questions and then nominate another blogger. You know, pay it forward to someone else to make their day? Well, I couldn't figure out how the heck to put it on my own blog and link it. In fact, I really don't know how to link anything. I'm not even totally sure what a "link" is. I know, I'm pathetic. Really, a sad case. I'm nothing more than a Mom with a burning desire to put my thoughts down on the computer and send them out into the universe. I'd just like to do it better. Thanks for listening. Cheers!

P.S. Just a little life tip from today: If you ask someone (say, your sister) for some of her contact solution so you can rinse your contact off before going out -- don't automatically assume that the bottle she gives you is actually contact solution. It could, for example, be enzyme cleaner (which looks a lot like the regular contact solution) that is only supposed to be used to clean contacts overnight, needs 6 hours to neutralize, and is NEVER, EVER, EVER supposed to be used for contacts that are just going to be rinsed and put right back in your eye. It's a surprising and excrutiating experience, and it results in an eye that is so scary red and swollen that it frightens away little children (not to mention the cute waiter at the restaurant). Not pretty!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I waaaant myyyyyy Mommmmmyyyyyyyyyyy!!!

No, that isn't the cry of one of my little darlings. It's me. I'm sick. I feel absolutely crappy. I woke up with a fever and a sore throat and body aches and glands the size of ping-pong balls. So, I lay in bed at 6:00am kinda hoping that my boys would wake up sick as well, so that we could all just lie around watching Disney movies all day and drinking apple juice. Does that make me a bad Mommy? I mean, seriously, hoping your kids will feel as lousy as you do? There's gotta be something wrong with me! The thing is, when my boys are both healthy, and I'm sick, it's just one giant train wreck trying to keep them entertained, exercised, and fed for an entire day by myself. Especially since my focus is all out-of-whack when I don't feel good. (Today, I put a gallon of milk in the cupboard with the pasta and put an empty pot in the refrigerator. Oh, and I also left the back gate open and both dogs escaped into the neighborhood. I didn't even know they were gone until my neighbor showed up with one dog and told me the other one had just run off around the corner, and I had to go find him in my pajamas, because I didn't have the energy to put real clothes on myself or my boys today. SIGH.) And, unlike many of my friends whose mothers or mothers-in-law are available at a moment's notice to come and take over when Mommy isn't feeling good, my own Mom lives too far away to do anything other than offer sympathy on the telephone and say, "Oh, honey, I WISH I could be there to help you." Me too, Mom. Love you. Wish you were here to tuck me in and bring me tea and say, "Now boys, leave your Mommy alone, so she can get some sleep." So, when I'm ill, I just kind've go through the motions and somehow manage to make it to the end of the day, get my little guys down for the night, and collapse on my bed. Fully clothed. With my contacts still in. Ouch. Anyway, I lay in bed this morning, feeling clammy and crummy, waiting for my guys to awaken. And, at 6:15am, I found out exactly what I would be dealing with today. Not two sick little boys. Not two healthy little boys. One of each. Absolute worst case scenario. One boy with enough energy to power a small town. One boy feeling so yucky that all he wanted to do was cling to me in his feverish delirium and have every single itty bitty need taken care of by Mommy. Oh, and he also didn't want his healthy brother touching him, smiling at him, "making big eyes" at him, laughing anywhere near him, playing anywhere near him, or pretty much existing in his universe. He just wanted me. And all I wanted was my bed. But all three of us made it through the day, somehow. Both boys are snoozing away in their bunk beds. The dogs are safely back home and snoozing on the living room floor. My dear hubby just walked in from work with a movie (which I fully intend to sleep through), AND he's off work for the next 2 days, so I can get a Mommy respite and hopefully ditch this lousy bug. That is, unless my husband and other son get the bug too. Then, no matter how sick I may be, I will be taking care of THREE boys, all by myself. I waaaaaaaant myyyyyyyyy Mommmmmmmyyyyyyy.... Cheers!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Take one dose of Meryl Streep and call me in the morning!

A couple of months ago or so, I wrote about "Finding the happy" -- a family philosophy from waaaay back for dealing with life's troubles (big and small) and coming out OK in the end. Well, this could be called "Finding the Happy, Part Two", because I have discovered something that makes me just as happy as sitting on my porch swing reading a good book. Meryl. Yes, Meryl "The Wonderful" Streep. I have always admired the way she transforms herself for a role and makes you absolutely believe in her character. I mean, really, her skills as an actress are undeniable. Sophie's Choice, Out of Africa, The River Wild, The Manchurian Candidate, Postcards From the Edge... The list goes on and on. Her performances have thrilled me, moved me, made me think, and thoroughly entertained me. But, when it comes to "Finding the Happy", nothing beats Mamma Mia and, as of this afternoon, Julie & Julia. I went to see Julie & Julia with some girlfriends today, and I haven't laughed that hard and felt that genuinely happy watching a movie in ages. Seriously, I was clapping my hands together with joy like a 9-year-old girl throughout the whole thing. I'm sure I was embarrassing my friends, but at least they could pretend I was just some strange woman, with poor social boundaries, who had sat down next to them in the theater. Anyway, I think that Meryl just glows with life and vivacity and something uniquely "Meryl". Both of these movies are just one big celebration of living and loving and being happy in your own skin (and it doesn't hurt that everybody seems to be drinking wine throughout, which is a little something that always adds to my personal happiness as well). I find it impossible to feel bad about anything while watching either of these life-affirming movies. Meryl, an over-50, average-sized woman, who seems to be bucking the plastic surgery/botox trend and actually aging gracefully, shows her audiences that beauty transcends body-type or wrinkles, and she is absolute living proof that every woman is lovable, is sexy, and is worth celebrating. I just love her! I can't wait until Julie & Julia comes out on DVD, because it will go right next to Mamma Mia in my movie drawer. And, speaking of Mamma Mia, as soon as my little guys are in bed tonight, I'm putting it in the DVD player, pouring myself a glass of Cabernet, and thoroughly embracing the joyful feelings Meryl's luminous performance brings out in me. To life -- whatever it brings! To love -- in all of its forms! To Meryl -- who helps me appreciate it all! Cheers!


Oh man, I had a major "awwwwww" moment driving my kids to Preschool today. So cute, I had to write it down. (Seriously. If you easily go into sugar-shock, you might want to skip this one. It's that sweet. You could vomit.) Bear with me, because there's a little back story to this: Both of my boys are mildly obsessed with Super Heroes. Now, considering that I'm a television Nazi and won't let my kids watch anything that isn't G-rated, with the occasional PG-rating (as long as it's been pre-screened and approved by moi), my boys haven't really seen much Super Hero action. But, exposure is unavoidable. Super Heroes are everywhere, right? Pajamas, T-shirts, lunch boxes, story books, etc., so the boys get the concept and think it's all very exciting and dramatic and fun. Anyway, we've spent some time discussing the concept of "hero", and I've always told them that you don't need super powers to be a hero. All you have to do to be a real hero is to be kind, to look out for others, to stand up against bullying and mean behavior, and to help people whenever you can. (Boring Mom-talk, right?) My boys would much rather be heroes by flying into burning buildings and putting the fire out with their super-breath or their incredibly fast wind-generating super-spins, or by doing anything that would allow them to cause great physical harm to "bad guys." Still, I'm laying the groundwork by talking about the more realistic aspects of being a hero, don't you think? The second half of this back story is the boys' natural curiosity about their parents' jobs. My husband, after being laid off from the real estate industry, was fortunate enough to get a position as a city transit bus driver. (The work is interesting and social, and he was surprised to find out that he really enjoys it. The hours, for lack of a more descriptive word, suck!) Anyway, his job is kind of a no-brainer for the boys to understand, right? They see buses all over town, they ride on them from time-to-time, they know Daddy is a driver, and they think it's a "wicked cool" job. My position as a middle school counselor is a bit harder for their little brains to grasp. I've explained it as best as I can, they know that I help kids who are having a tough time, they've visited me at work and seen "the big, big kids" at my school, but I've never thought that they really get the whole concept of what I do in my job. So, I was driving the boys to Preschool this morning, and we were talking about different jobs people do, when my oldest little guy, Spencer, suddenly piped up, "Mommy, I know exactly, for sure, what I'm going to do when I grow up." "Oh, really?" said I. "Yup, I sure do, Mommy. I'm going to be a school counselor just like you, because I want to be a hero too."

How sweet is that? I'm getting misty again just writing about it. So, vomit if you must, but you have to apprecate what a great moment that was, eh? Wishing all Mommies everywhere more moments just like that one. Cheers!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

"Also me."

My four-year-old son is hilarious in more ways than I can count. Here is just one of the myriad things he does that cracks me up on a daily basis. Instead of saying, "Me too" when he agrees with somebody, my little guy says, "Also me." He's always done that. I have no idea where he picked it up, but ever since he started talking, he's chosen that particular phrase. It's so funny to look at my stocky, grubby, feisty, little guy, with bandaids on his knees and dirt in his hair, and hear those formal-sounding words coming out of his mouth. He's like a proper English gentleman or something. "Also me, my good man. Kindly pass me my apple juice, and, by the way, do you have any Grey Poupon?" Of course, the facade of the proper little gentleman shatters when the conversation between he and his big brother so frequently goes something like this: "I really, really, really love taking showers." "Also me." "And, I really, really, love Mommy and Daddy." "Also me." "And I really, really, really, love ice cream." "Also me, Poop-Head." SIGH.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Just when you think it's safe to go to the bathroom...

One day, shortly after becoming a mother to two little boys (born just shy of 13 months apart), I had a sudden and powerful thought: "It 's going to be years before I will ever be able to go to the bathroom by myself again." Now, I'm not talking about those mach speed emergency dashes to the bathroom that all Moms are able to complete in under 30 seconds while one child is securely strapped into the high chair and the other is just as securely strapped into the baby swing (and with the bathroom door wide open and ears on alert for the slightest sound of a little one gagging or coughing or tipping over the high chair). Those insanely fast bathroom trips we all must take from time-to-time, or suffer the consequence of eternal bladder infections, are not what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about a nice, sit-down with a magazine that you actually get to read while you're in there. (Well, not the whole thing, but at least one article!) You know what I'm talking about. The kind of bathroom breaks our spouses/significant others/partners seem to be able to fit in at least once a day (especially right after arriving home, after you've spent 9 hours listening to: "He hit me! I'm hungry. Mom! MOM! He touched me! Quit touching me! Hey, Mom, the dog threw up on the carpet again. I'm thirsty. He poked me! Mooooommmmmmyyyyyy........" and need nothing more than to immediately hand over the kids, pour yourself a tall glass of Cabernet, and collapse on any piece of furniture that doesn't have a child or a dog anywhere near it). Anyway, I had this realization about bathroom privacy being a thing of the past, and I dealt with it. I dealt with it pretty well, actually, because I knew that there was a light at the end of this particular tunnel. There will come a time, I told myself, when I will have bathroom breaks again. A time when I won't have to be so obsessively worried that, while I'm in the bathroom reading about the latest anti-wrinkle cream I apparently should have been applying regularly since the age of 20 (oops), one of my boys will fall and crack his lip open on the corner of the coffee table, or drink all the slobbery dog water, or draw all over the walls with crayons (all things which have happened in my house, by the way). Or simply a time when one, or both, of my boys has outgrown the need to accompany me literally every single place I go. That simple thought kept me going for the last several years: "Someday I will have a bathroom break again!" As it turns out, today was not that day. SIGH. Today, while my boys were building block towers in the living room, I thought it would be safe to visit the bathroom for a bit all by myself. I was even optimistic enough to bring a book with me. I should've known better. All seemed well at first. I could hear the boys talking and giggling (and throwing blocks at one another). Then, I heard a noise that sounded a lot like a big moth being zapped by a bug zapper. I listened carefully, and I heard it again. Zap, zap, zap. Well, since we don't have a bug zapper or any toy which replicates the sound of a bug zapper, I launched myself off the pot, out the bathroom door, and flew into the living room in time to see my 4-year old spraying Oxi-Clean directly into the T.V., which was flashing on and off, producing an unpleasant burning odor, and making the aforementioned zapping sound, while my 5-year old danced around with my feather duster happily shouting, "We're cleaning the house for you, Mommy!" With adrenaline shooting through my body, I hollered something along the lines of, "Get out the back door -- the T.V.'s going to catch on fire!!!", grabbed the T.V. cords and unplugged them from the wall, called the dogs, and ran outside to join my boys on the back porch, thanking my lucky stars that my little guy hadn't been electrocuted and hoping my house wasn't about to burn down. Once I knew that everything was OK (except our T.V., which is now officially deceased), I began the lecture (not for the first time, by the way) about not getting into the cleaning supplies, being safe, asking before touching anything like that, blah, blah, blah....As an aside, I do keep my Oxi-Clean and other cleaning supplies HIGH up in our cleaning closet. Apparently, my boys have discovered that they can clamber straight up the shelves like monkeys to reach whatever the heck they want to get their grubby little hands on. So, perhaps it's still a bit too soon for relaxing bathroom breaks. But, I will continue to look forward to that day, sometime in the not-too-distant future...I hope. Cheers!