Monday, December 24, 2007

ROCKS AND RUBBERBANDS

According to Aleita, you'd better not pout, you'd better not cry. . . or else Santa Claus will leave you rocks and rubberbands in your stocking. I am not sure where she came up with the idea that rocks and rubberbands are the gift of choice for the world's naughty, but perhaps she is simply precocious and aware that coal is a non-renewable resource and simply could be better used to provide heat for the poor than as a lesson in a bad kid's stocking. Or, it may simply be that she has no concept of what "coal" is, so rocks and rubberbands it is. A few mornings ago, as she got up and made her way to the table for breakfast, she was a little freaked out to find a rubberband setting on the table in front of her seat. Truth was, Chris had just set it there after taking if off the morning paper, but he decided to use the moment to his advantage, and said, "hmm. . . looks as though Santa is trying to send you a warning."

Also in the world of Santa lore according to Aleita, Santa has hidden cameras all over that help him in watching for naughty behavior. This theory was instigated by her very smart preschool teacher who now only has to point at the heating vent on the ceiling when one of kids begins to throw a tantrum and say, "you know who is watching!" and the kid immediately ceases the fit. I am not sure what trick she'll pull out of her sleeve after Christmas, but she is pretty savy, so I am sure she'll come up with something.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

YEAH TOAST!

I remember as a child, looking so forward to Christmas break - - - having two weeks off from school was a treat in itself, let alone knowing that I would be able to sleep in, as well as that I would have lots of new toys to play with once Christmas morning came. Aleita is looking forward to something slightly different.

This morning, as Chris was getting Aleita dressed, she asked her customary question, "Can I have toast for breakfast?" to which Chris gave his customary answer, "On Saturday you can, but this morning, you can have Cheerios or oatmeal." Aleita loves having toast for breakfast, but she takes too long to eat it. She savors each and every bite, which doesn't work well on a time-crunched weekday morning. Therefore, toast consumption for her part must be limited to weekends. However, Chris then added, "You know what though? Next week, we'll be on vacation, then you can have toast every morning for breakfast if you want to."

You would have thought that someone had just told the kid she was going to Disneyworld. Her eyes lit up and she ran (half clothed) around her bedroom yelling, "I get toast EVERYDAY next week! Hooray!" She was so excited, she even had to come in the bathroom to tell me. Yes, Christmas vacation means different things to different people. To Aleita, the best part may just be toast with strawberry jelly on her plate every morning.

IN HONOR OF ALEITA, SOME OF THE LYRICS FROM HEYWOOD BANKS'S SONG, "I LIKE TOAST"

all around the country coast to coast,
people always say what do you like most,
I don't wanna brag i don't wanna boast,
I always tell 'em I like toast.
yeah TOAST yeah TOAST

i get up in the mornin' bout six AM,
have a little jelly have a little jam,
take a piece of bread put it in the slot,
push down the lever and the wires gets hot,
i get toast.
yeah TOAST yeah TOAST

now there's no secret to toasting perfection,
there's a dial on the side and you make your selection,
push to the dark or the light and then,
if it pops too soon press down again,
make toast.
yeah TOAST yeah TOAST

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

ADJUSTING TO SMALL TOWN LIVING

In case you are not familiar with me and my family, we are THE NEW PEOPLE IN TOWN. We moved to our new home in October, but I have the feeling that we will have the distinction of “THE NEW PEOPLE IN TOWN” for perhaps months, even years to come This is how we are often introduced to others, "This is Chris and Becky - - they are THE NEW PEOPLE IN TOWN." The mobility rate for Blue Mound is not exactly staggering, so we may indeed keep this title for awhile.

Growing up in Mt. Auburn, I have practically doubled the population count from my old stomping grounds through my move to Blue Mound. And joy of joys, I will once again get to wear that hideous kelly green color once Maggie begins 2nd grade at Meridian (Meridian's, as well as Mt. Auburn's school color.) I will also trade an Eagle (Mt. Auburn's mascot) for a hawk (Meridian's mascot.) I seem to have something going here with the green and the birds of prey theme.

Chris also started off life in a small town (Cerro Gordo,) but has lived in Decatur for the past 25 years, and I for the past 14, so we are a little slow to adjust back to small town living. Maggie and Aleita have never known anything but living in a bigger city, so they are only beginning to discover the anomalies of small town life as compared to life in an area with several thousand people. We are constantly getting the question of “who is that?” every time we wave at someone. When we answer that we don’t know, they say, “then why did you wave at them?” Our answer? Because that is what you do in a small town, of course.

It is also an adjustment to rediscover what it is like to live in a community where everybody knows everybody else's business. Someone once said, "The nicest part of living in a small town is that even if I don't know what I'm doing, someone else does." We are finding that to be very true. I am astounded when I meet someone new for the first time, and they know things about me that maybe just happened to me a day or two before. Holy smokes! I never thought I would be the topic of discussion over morning coffee or an afternoon walk. I imagine being "THE NEW PEOPLE IN TOWN" is probably the closest I will ever get to being famous, so I should try to enjoy it while it lasts!

Friday, November 30, 2007

TEN THINGS TO BE HAPPY ABOUT TODAY

1) A year ago today, we had a massive ice storm, and many people in our area lost power for well over a week. Forecast for today? High of 42 degrees and no precipitation.

2) I got to have lunch with my husband

3) We have friends coming over for dinner tonight - after the kids go to bed, we will probably play a game and I'll laugh so hard that my cheeks will hurt

4) I have a pork roast in the slow cooker so that is one less thing I have to worry about when I get home

5) I am going to a conference up north next week for a few days in which I will be 20 minutes away from Woodfield Mall and Oakbrook Mall.

6) I am wearing jeans and tennis shoes at work today.

7) I bought a few Christmas presents on my way back to the office after lunch today while I was downtown

8) I found out today that I will get to see a cousin in a few weeks that I haven't seen in a very long time, as well as meet his wife and daughter for the first time

9) Chris and I agreed to buy a new TV for our house this year instead of buying each other Christmas presents, so I don't have to go crazy trying to figure out what to get him

10) Maggie's class has been working on a play in which she has one line. Instead of memorizing Bible verses this week, her assignment was to make sure they knew their part for the play. Done!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

IF YOU DON'T SEND THIS ON TO TEN PEOPLE, YOU DON'T REALLY LOVE JESUS!!

OK - I just have to go on the record here as saying, "PEOPLE!! USE YOUR HEADS!"

I can not believe the number of email forwards I get every day. I will occassionally forward an email to a select few people - - those who I think will find something especially amusing or pertinent - - but I have never forwarded ANYTHING to everyone in my email address book. Most of my forwarded emails are carefully screened to ensure that anyone who I think will find something offensive or not applicable to them does not get on the "send to" list. There are things I have snickered at and sent on to two or three friends that I would never dream of sending to my mother. But I must say, you will not open your inbox and find 13 messages from me that have been forwarded to you.

There are two categories of email forwards that especially set me off. Now keep in mind, I am not talking email spam here. . .and yes, I get plenty of those with people promising me to send me a fortune from a Nigerian bank account or offering me cheap Viagra. No, I am talking about email forward that people I actually know send on to me.

The first kind is the ones where someone actually believes that they are going to get something if they forward that email to a certain number of people. WAKE UP PEOPLE!! There is no way to track that stuff! Do you really think Bill Gates is going to send you a few thousand dollars for bothering the people on your email list with a stupid forward? Get a clue! TGI Fridays and Applebee's are not chomping at the bit to send you a gift card. There is no school project where you have to add your name to a list and then forward it to everyone you know! No one is going to send you a free computer! Quit sending the one to me about how something funny will pop up on your screen in two minutes if you send this to seven people.....c'mon, we're smarter than this, right?

The other kind of email forward that really gets to me are the ones that promise eternal damnation if I don't forward on to everyone I know how much I really love Jesus. I am a Christian. I go to church. I teach Sunday School. I try my best to raise my kids to be good people and live a life that is pleasing to God. However, I don't believe for a minute that God is going to send me to hell if I don't bother everyone I know with some sappy email about how someone read this email and prayed this prayer and three minutes later their dad came home from the war. . .complete with cartoon angels and a polyphonic version of Amazing Grace playing in the background. Call me crazy, but I think God speaks to me in other ways besides "Fwd. Fwd. Fwd. Fwd. Jesus says you better read this!!"

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Great Illinois Smoke Out

The other night, I was talking with a few out-of-state family members about the fact that in January in Illinois, there would be a smoking ban going into effect that will prohibit smoking in all public places. We discussed the effects of this ban and what it may mean for some businesses. I don’t agree with the ban (in my opinion, if I choose to go to an establishment that allows smoking, then I am choosing to breathe that air and get all smoky – no one is forcing me to go there.) However, in spite of the fact that I think this is too much governmental interference into the private lives of citizens, perhaps I shouldn’t admit that I am actually also excited about it because I do look forward to going to eat at certain restaurants without coming out smelling like an ashtray. For instance, I love to go eat at The Wharf, but I seldom do because it just gets so smoky in there. I just hope this new law doesn’t end up hurting Illinois businesses in the long run.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A MORNING CONVERSATION

Morning car conversation between Maggie and myself:

Maggie: Mommy, when you were seven, did you have a boyfriend?
Me: No.
Maggie: How old were you when you got a boyfriend?
Me: A lot older than seven.
Maggie: I don’t have a boyfriend. I don’t want one either.
Me: Why do you think people become boyfriend and a girlfriend?
Maggie: I don’t know. . .’cause they like each other, I guess.
Me: Well what do you think a boyfriend and girlfriend do?
Maggie: They kiss and hug. And eat dinner. And go shopping. . .they wear matching clothes and stuff.
Me: Is that how you can tell they are boyfriend and girlfriend? From their matching clothes?
Maggie: That and they always hold hands and whisper.
Me: I see.
Maggie: I don’t think I ever want to have a boyfriend. I don’t want to get married either.
Me: That’s ok – it’s your choice.
Maggie: Can I have a baby if I don’t get married?
Me: I prefer that you be married if you are going to have a baby.
Maggie: OK – then I’ll just get a cat. And a guinea pig. I’d rather have a guinea pig than a husband anyway.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

SIZE MATTERS?

Yesterday morning I dropped Aleita off at daycare before work. Just as I was leaving, another parent pulled in the parking space beside me in his larger-than-life Hummer. You could have fit about two of my little car inside his enormous vehicle. He caught me looking at the Hummer as he lifted his daughter out of the car and started into the daycare. He gave me a small smile and a nod, obviously jazzed that I was checking out his man-machine.

The thing is, if he had known what I was thinking, I doubt he would have been quite as enthused. As I looked upon his large piece of machinery sitting in the parking spot next to mine, several thoughts crossed my mind:

- What a waste of gasoline - - I can't imagine having a gas guzzler thatn gets about 10 miles to the gallon.
- Can you imagine trying to park that thing in a crowded parking lot? How do you get that monster in a garage? It would certainly never fit in mine.
- The thought that always occurs to me when I see a guy driving a big ol' Hummer though is always the same . . . that guy must a have a little bitty. . . .self esteem. OK - self esteem isn't exactly what comes to my mind, but you get the idea. I wonder if a lot of women feel the same way? It isn't just hummers though - - I often think the same thing when I see a guy driving a big flashy sports car, like a Corvette. I always assume he's trying to overcompensate for something.

So guys - FYI - - when a women is looking a little too long at you and your Hummer, it may not be because she is so utterly impressed by your manly machine. . . she may be feeling sorry for you and your own little "lack of power."

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

GRAMMAR COP

Yesterday, Maggie and I stopped by Hobby Lobby for a minute on the way home. As we were heading out of the store, the lady who had parked next to us got out of her car and took a look at her parking job. She had done a pretty poor job and realized it, and said to us with a laugh, "I think I better try that again! I didn't park too good!"

Maggie immediately looked at her and said, "No, you didn't park too well." It was enough to almost bring a little tear to this grammar cop's eye. I am constantly correcting the children's grammar in an effort to teach them to sound like intelligent human beings. The woman, a little embarrassed, got back into her car and righted her vehicle into the parking spot. She avoided eye contact as she walked into the store. Nothing like having your grammer corrected by a 7-year old to deflate your ego just a bit.

Monday, November 19, 2007

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU . . . .

I know, I know. . .it's been awhile. I feel like I am finally starting to get a handle on daily life once again now that moving is behind us. The house is now livable, and we have quite a bit of stuff put away. Most all of the painting is done and the main floor and upstairs rooms are relatively clutter and box free. The basement still resembles a packing plant, but time will be needed to go through all the boxes and put the "stuff" in its proper place.

This past weekend, Maggie turned seven. It is hard to believe that ready or not, time marches on. In a moment of weakness, or perhaps insanity, I decided to let Maggie have that McDonald's birthday party she's always wanted. The "good" factors - relatively inexpensive, no cleanup afterwards, no getting ready for it, and no cooking. The "not-so-good" factor? Inviting all 21 members of her first grade class.

In reality, only 14 kids showed up. Being around other people's children who were also my daughter's age for a little over an hour really helped me take stock and realize that my kid is pretty darn well behaved. For instance, when we are out somewhere and I tell my child it is time to go, she says, "ok" and we leave. I saw at least two parents who had to physically restrain their children to keep them from climbing back in the funland plaything when they told them it was time to go. My child would have got a butt smack if she would have tried that little trick, and I wouldn't have cared who saw me do it.

One thing that really made me proud of Maggie was that I told her beforehand that if we were having a birthday party for her whole class, that I was putting on the invitations, "NO GIFTS PLEASE" and she was perfectly fine with that. I just wanted the kids to be able to come and eat cheeseburgers and cake and ice cream and play in the germ-laden play thing and not worry about having to buy a gift. Quite frankly, I also didn't think Maggie needed to have all the junk that I am sure would have come from her classmates. (She did have a family party on Sunday where she got presents.)

Maggie has been invited to two birthday parties in the last month. She only attended one of them. The one she didn't attend was held at Chuck E. Cheese in Bloomington and the mom rented a school bus to take all the kids there. I thought it was a little too over-the-top for me, plus we don't really know their family, so sending my child 50 miles away via school bus just didn't seem like a good idea. The party that she did attend was held at the YMCA here in town. On the invitation, the mother had actually written: "4 - 5pM - swimming; 5 - 6PM - eat cake and open gifts." In other words, BRING A GIFT! It's not as if I wouldn't have sent Maggie with a gift, but c'mon - a little class here, please! I must say though, I responded in kind: the gift Maggie brought? A multi-pack of Play Doh and 2 bottles of fingernail polish. Enjoy, mom.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS

Most everyone knows we have moved, so we frequently get some variant of the same question: Are you all moved in yet?

My answer each time is the same - - all of our stuff is there. . . but I wouldn't exactly refer to it as "all moved in" just yet. The essentials are in place, but the devil is in the details. Sheets and blankets are tacked in the bedroom windows to offer some privacy until our curtains come in. The living room sits mostly vacant, save for the television and a large china cabinet until we have the chance to go look for new furniture. Anyone who calls will find that they are unable to leave a message if we're not home because I haven't yet been able to locate the box containing the phone with the answering machine.

Moving is a slow process, particularly when you have small children and you and your spouse both work full time. I told someone yesterday that I feel like my life the last month and a half has felt like someone pressed the fast forward button. I feel like I am constantly in a state of rapid movement from one thing to the next until I finally collapse into bed at the end of the day. Bear with me if I don't update my blog everyday. My plate is so full, I think I need sideboards!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

NO NEW NEWS?

I just wanted to apologize for my lack of blogging of late. We are in the process of moving and life is unbelievably hectic right now. We are currently staying with my parents while we work on painting, redoing wood floors, etc. in our new home. Hopefully I will be able to return to the blog in a few weeks.

Monday, October 15, 2007

THE FIRST DAY AT A NEW SCHOOL

Aleita started at a new daycare today. Because of our move, we have put her in a daycare on the opposite end of town. It is actually the same company that owns both daycares, so it is nice because the structure is basically the same. Still, I worried a little bit about how her first day would go. Most transitions are not easy, but I figured that being three and going to a new school would be an especially difficult one. Apparently, I was wrong.

I expected some trepidation on her part and I completely expected full-on mom clinginess when I dropped her off this morning. Chris and I had really worked on talking up the new school this weekend, yet I still figured that the moment I got ready to say goodbye this morning, she would run for me and adhere herself to me and tell me to stay. Aleita is not a particularly clingy kid, but in unfamiliar situations, she does seek the comfort of dear ol’ mom and dad.

Well, I was apparently wearing Teflon this morning because there was no sticking involved. I had carved out a large block of time this morning so that I would be able to stay around if she decided she wanted me to spend some time there with her while she got accustomed to her new surroundings. I kid you not, I was in and out of that daycare in about four minutes, tops.

I walked Aleita in and we were met by the director who was expecting us. She showed us to her room, and Aleita found her cubby and hung up her bag. She washed her hands (they have to wash hands every morning when they first arrive) and then the director showed us to the playground where Aleita’s class was playing. Aleita’s new teacher greeted her cheerily, but she was hardly listening. She was taking in the new playground equipment and the new kids. Her eyes totally lit up when she saw two kids riding on tricycles, and a third trike waiting, as if it knew she was coming and was reserved just for her. She turned quickly to me, gave me a quick hug and kiss and said, “bye Mommy – love you.” And she was off.

I waited a few moments to make sure she would be fine, but she never gave me so much as a backwards glance. Within moments, she was on the tricycle and headed off toward the other two kids on their trikes. I smiled as I walked to the car, and breathed a deep sigh of relief. What a great start to a Monday.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I'M GONNA MISS YOU TIVO!

We are almost completely packed up - - - we are going to be finishing tomorrow. We only have a few things left to pack up - - mostly clothes and kitchen stuff. For the next few weeks, we are going to be staying at my parents' house while we do a little work on our new home before we move in.

The kids are going to have to contend with Amish TV at my folks' house for the next few weeks. When we go visit my parents, the kids often ask us to "pause" the TV while they go use the bathroom or to rewind something because they missed a part while they left the room. They look at us blankly when we try to explain that Grandma and Papa don't have Tivo. It is foreign enough for them to deal with the fact that they don't get the Disney channel or Noggin, let alone that there isn't a storehouse of The Backyardigans, Dora, and Hannah Montana awaiting them when they wish to watch them. They only get five channels? Whoever heard of such a thing?

I have to admit that I too, will miss my Tivo. Sitting down to a marathon session of my Thursday night shows (Ugly Betty, Grey's Anatomy, ER, and CSI Las Vegas) is my Friday night guilty pleasure after the kids go to bed. I could actually probably get used to only getting a few channels - - for the most part, I don't really watch a lot of stuff on the few hundred channels we get on our Directv. The kids, of course, love Disney and Noggin, but I could handle having the local basics if I could also get HBO because I love the Sunday night original programming. They show good new release movies on there frequently as well (several of which are stored on my Tivo for that probably-never-will-happen but I would like to watch these if I actually had time time.)

So au revoir for now, my dear Tivo. Parting is such sweet sorrow. I know it will only be a matter of weeks until we are together again, but I know my Friday nights just won't be the same without you until then.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

IT'S THE THOUGHT THAT COUNTS. . . .

I worked on packing up the kitchen stuff last night. This morning, Maggie asked me to make her oatmeal, but regretfully, the oatmeal container was packed in one of the 20-some odd boxes of “kitchen stuff.” She settled for scrambled eggs. I find it amazing that so far, I have packed up about 20 or so boxes of stuff out of my tiny little kitchen - - and still have a few to go. Grandma Dot would definitely be proud of the amount of stuff I managed to shove into one space.

Speaking of that, when I cleaned out one of the cabinets, way in the back I found something that I haven’t seen since we moved into that house six years ago and had forgotten we had. It made me laugh out loud to see it, in fact. Ten years ago, when Chris and I got married, one of the gifts we were given was an expandable trivet. That was the only gift that was in the package - - a small, metal frame with hinges in the middle to allow it to expand so a hot dish could be set on it. It had to cost all of about $3.99 - - the wrapping itself probably cost more than the present. I can still remember being baffled when I opened it because I couldn’t figure out what it was, or why someone would just give us a trivet. Harder still was trying to write an acceptable thank you note for such an odd and let’s face it, really cheap gift. Rather than having someone say, “you guys are worth less than $5 to me,” I would just as soon have gotten a card with nothing from them. If it really is the thought that counts, then we were apparently not very highly thought of.

So last night, I rediscovered the expandable trivet and had a good laugh remembering our bewilderment when we unwrapped it in August 1997. As I have not used it in the last six years and haven’t even given it a second thought, I figured we could probably live without it from here on out. After ten years, the sad little expandable trivet that never got used finally ended up in the pile destined for garbage collection.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

DON'T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT!!!

This past Sunday, we went to the Cracker Barrel to have lunch after church. All was well, with the exception of Aleita continually dropping the little pegs on the floor from that triangular-shaped game they have at every table, but that is to be expected. We ordered and received our lunch and were about halfway finished when Aleita suddenly cried out and covered her eyes. Chris and I tried to ascertain the cause of her sudden outburst. Thinking that she had somehow managed to get something in her eye (a wayward peg, perhaps?), we tried to get her to lower her hands so we could see why she was so upset.

She warily look over her hands and scowled over the top of them at a picture in a convex glass frame a little ways down from us. "I don't like that man," she said. Ahhh. . . a picture. Though most people would still be puzzled at this point, I knew exactly what was going on. A few months back, I had taken Maggie and Aleita to the Cracker Barrel to have dinner on a Friday night while Chris was working at a football game (it isn't necessarily my favorite place in the world, but the kids absolutely love the pancakes.) While we were seated at our table, which was in the same section we were sitting in on Sunday, Aleita spotted a picture of a man on the wall in a curved glass frame that she did not like. It was a man with a stern face and dour expression, as most of those pictures in the antique curved glass frames tend to be, and looking at it made her uncomfortable.

I can't say that I blame her. Most of the portraits of people in those antique bubble glass frames tend to freak me out a little bit too. Growing up, my grandparents had a few of those pictures tucked away upstairs in a closet. I tried to make it a point to never go in there because - distantly related to me or not - those portraits of the men and women and their harsh, unyielding expressions always gave me the creeps.

Aleita's discomfort is not limited to just stern-looking people in antique frames though. She actually does have a weird thing about certain people's faces in pictures that really makes her uncomfortable. There are certain restaurants that when we go to them, we always have to remember to request to sit in a certain section, or Aleita gets all worked up and won't eat. At Applebee's, she can't be seated anywhere near the large Marilyn Monroe picture. At Texas Roadhouse, there is a mural of a large Native American Chief in full headress that she refers to as the "scary turkey" that had better not be visible, or we have to put up with a fussy three-year old who won't eat her meal.

On Sunday, once she had spotted her nemesis in the curved glass picture, she was done with her meal of pancakes and sausage that she had fully been enjoying up to that point. No amount of coaxing was going to get her to finish. Usually Aleita is the last one done eating - - she is even slower to finish than my mom in most cases, and that is a hard contest to win. But once Aleita spots a picture she doesn't like, you had better cover it up or take it off the wall, because otherwise, mealtime is over. Once she spotted the guy this Sunday, she was ready to head on out (even though we weren't through eating.) She spent the rest of our time there with her milk cup held in front of her face so she wouldn't have to look at his portrait.

Perhaps I could get one made in wallet size, so when we are at the park or at McDonald's and I am ready to go home and she starts to fuss, all I have to do is pull the picture out and tell her that it will only be put away once she gets in the car. Hmm. . .I may be onto something here!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

A SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT VERSION OF GOOD OL' CHRIS COLUMBUS

Happy Monday off work. . . better known as Columbus Day. I am actually writing this on Sunday night because I am off tomorrow and plan on spending the day packing for our move this coming Saturday.

One of my teachers brought in a very interesting article written by an anthropologist that he found on Columbus to share with our students this past Thursday. What do you remember about Columbus from your elementary school days? 1492? Something about sailing an ocean blue? Wasn't there something about a Nina?

This article really provides an eye-opening account of a very non-romanticized version of Christopher Columbus. Among other things, it details how Columbus didn't actually get all the money necessary for his voyage from the monarchy in Spain. . . .it seems he actually became a slave trader of Indians in order to finance his journey. It also asserts that he and his men hunted the Indians, among other savage acts, simply for sport.

It makes for interesting reading and is only a few pages long. You can find it online at: http://www.hartford-hwp.com/Taino/docs/columbus.html.


Friday, October 5, 2007

THOU SHALT NOT. . . .(take two)

Maggie's Bible verse today, as I mentioned a few days ago, was "You shall not commit adultery." That was fun to try to explain. I am not sure she quite grasped it, but that is ok.

Anyway, Aleita will often listen in as we are working on memorizing Bible verses and try to learn them as well. She usually jumbles it a bit, but today's was a real winner. Aleita's version? "You shall not admit a dolphin."

God couldn't have said it any better himself.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

What's on YOUR list this year?

Tonight, Maggie and Aleita and I went to Lowe's to look for a light fixture for our new home. (It seems I am spending a lot of time in home improvement stores lately, doesn't it?) As you enter the store, they have a large Christmas display, particularly of the variety of the ostentatious yard displays that feature such things as an eight-foot waving snowman or a Santa Claus stuck in the chimney showing his britches.

Maggie and Aleita immediately spotted the Christmas stuff and insisted we take a closer look. This somewhat surprised me because up until now, Aleita has been absolutely terrified of Santa Claus. She insisted last year that Grandma, rather than Santa, had brought her gifts. She seemed pretty ok with the idea of Santa while we were at Lowe's today. . . .though keep in mind that this Santa was a blowup one perched on top of the shelving. Last year, when encountered with the "real thing" in Central Park, she would shriek everytime he would look her way and bury her head in Chris's shoulder. She insisted that Chris stay as far away from him in the corner of the room while Maggie sat on his lap and talked to him.

Maggie - apparently in the Christmas spirit from her brush with this holiday cheeriness - began talking about Christmas, and in particular, what she wanted Santa to bring her this year. She listed off some obvious things, like Barbies and Polly Pockets. She then asked Aleita what she wanted for Christmas. Aleita's answer? Hot dogs and Little People. Now I think that is one little girl's wish list that Santa will have no trouble fulfilling.


Wednesday, October 3, 2007

THOU SHALT NOT. . . .

As I have mentioned before, Maggie has a new Bible verse to memorize every night. Each day at school, her teacher calls the kids up to her desk and has them recite the verse they learned for her. Toward the end of last week, they began working on the Ten Commandments.

Today’s verse to learn was this: The Fifth Commandment – You shall not murder. We started working on it last night after supper. Immediately after hearing the word “murder,” Maggie of course asked, “what’s murder?” I explained to her that it was when you kill someone. She responded, “why would anyone want to do that??” (from the mouths of babes!) We practiced it a few more times, but I could tell she was having difficulty remembering the word “murder.” Just not a part of a six-year old’s everyday vocabulary.

This morning, I asked Maggie if she remembered the verse she had to say for today. She said, “The Fifth Commandment - You shall not. . . . brag?”

Tomorrow’s verse? The Sixth Commandment – You shall not commit adultery. Can’t wait to explain that one.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

MAMA SAID THERE'D BE DAYS LIKE THIS. . .

As soon as I picked Aleita up from school yesterday, the first thing she told me is that she needed to wash her shoes. She said she had got them dirty while playing outside that day. I glanced at them and thought to myself that they really looked no worse than when I had sent her in them that morning, but getting into a debate with a three year old wasn’t at the top of my list at that given moment. Besides, I thought that maybe she was just meaning that she had wood chips or sand in her shoes from playing outside, which often happens (unfortunately, I almost always seem to forget to sit her down OUTSIDE and dump out her shoes, and then I end up with it all over the kitchen floor when she pulls them off.)

Thinking no more of it, we proceeded home. As soon as we were out of the car, Aleita again started in with the needing to wash her shoes thing. I was actually glad she reminded me, so that for one day, I wouldn’t have sand and/or wood chips all over the floor. I sat her down on the steps in the garage that lead into the house to pull her shoes off, and that is when I realized that she was quite accurate that her shoes, indeed, needed to be washed. I was also reminded that sometimes being a mom is quite literally, a crappy job. As soon as I pulled off her right shoe, it only took a glance at my hand to understand why she felt her shoes needed to be washed. You see, at some point during her day of playing at pre-school, Aleita had apparently stepped in dog poop.

Cleaning dog poop off the bottom of your kids’ shoes is one of those “mom” jobs that ranks right up there with cleaning up vomit or having to put your hand in the toilet to retrieve a dropped object. You go through most of your days, not even really thinking about “being an adult.” For me, the fact that I really am an adult doesn’t hit home when I am working at my job, parenting my kids, or in thinking about the ten years my husband and I have been married. No, adulthood tends to smack me in the face at those moments when I realize that I am the one who has to clean the dog poop off the shoe because that is what a mom does. As kids, we couldn’t wait to grow up so we could be adults and do the exciting things that adults do. If we had only known. . . .

Monday, October 1, 2007

THE OBSTACLE COURSE

My house has become an obstacle course. Everyone continually asks us how the packing is going, and I tell them my home has become a maze of boxes. I think they think I am joking, but if you were to come to my house, you would see that clearly, I am not. Boxes are stacked three and four high and several rows deep in most rooms, including the hallways. I have so many bruises on my legs from running into boxes that I could be a poster child for abuse. I think of these box-packed rooms often as something of a gauntlet.

My panic has mostly subsided over the fear of not getting done in time to move. We have a good portion of our things packed, save for the kitchen and our clothes. I also have not packed many of the kids’ toys yet. I actually had tried to pack some of them, but suddenly, toys that they seldom play with became prized possessions. Since those were the toys that they couldn’t have, then those were the ones that they wanted, and they kept coming along and opening the box and taking them out. I decided it was somewhat of a futile effort and just gave up until closer to moving day.

I must say that Chris has made great strides in our downsizing efforts. He has willingly parted with many boxes of things that I never thought I would see go out the door. As we were sitting in the living room last night, we were sorting through some boxes and talking, and I was drinking a glass of very good pinot noir wine out of a Garfield mug because my mom packed all my wine glasses when she came to help me on Wednesday afternoon. I told him that I was proud of him for getting rid of so much stuff. He told me that, for the record, he was done getting rid of his things, and the stuff that was left wasn’t going anywhere. I told him that ten years ago, he never would have imagined parting with all the stuff he is now, so who knows what will happen in another ten? A girl can hope, can’t she?

Friday, September 28, 2007

MOMSPEAK

Who knew that two alternative-type singers could be so well-versed in the art of Momspeak? To take a line from a Jack Johnson/Ben Harper collaboration:

It seems to me that maybe
It pretty much always means no

These guys really have insight into how moms of the world must often operate. When you are in public, saying an outright, "no" to your kids can often drive them into a fit of pouting and with a three year old, a temper tantrum. But tell them "maybe," and well, they hold out a glimmer of hope that just perhaps, who knows, well. . .maybe that "thing" that they want will actually happen.

As an example, today after I picked up Maggie and Aleita from school, I needed to run by Menard's. As we were walking into the store, Aleita asked if Daddy was at home. I told her that he was working at a football game tonight and would be home after they went to bed. Occasionally, I will take the kids out to a game that he is working, but I really wasn't up for it tonight. As if on cue though, Aleita then asks if we can go to the football game tonight. I had a choice at that point. I knew full well the answer was "no." However, I also knew that I wanted to spend a good fifteen minutes looking at paint samples, and doing so with a whiny, crying three-year old was not going to work well for me. So I gave her my best momspeak answer, "We'll see." ("We'll see" is another way of saying "maybe" in momspeak.)

After we left the store, I did take them to the park and let them play for almost an hour. Playing at the park apparently quelled her desire to go to the game, because there was no more mention of it. After that, we came home and had supper, then I gave them baths and read books and got them to bed. It is now 8:30PM and I should probably go work on packing. Is that what I'm going to do? Hmmm. . . .maybe!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

POOR ME. . . .

I know someone who is always talking about how poor she is. Truth be told, she and her family live in a very nice, large home in a wealthy subdivision. She is always dressed in very fashionable, expensive clothes, and wears beautiful jewelry and a huge diamond ring. She drives a brand new car and sends her kids to a private school. So why does she always complain about money?

She reminds me of "that girl" in junior high who would always say, "I'm so fat," when she was about as big around as a pencil. She was always wanting everyone to say, "Oh my gosh - - you're not fat! You're so skinny!!" I am the one who would say something like, "well, it does look like you've maybe put on a few pounds, I suppose." People like that drive me crazy and I refuse to play those stupid games.

When the lady I know who always complains about being poor starts in about her money troubles, I just want to smack her and tell her to knock it off. Unfortunately, I know her from a professional standpoint and would seriously jeopardize our working relationship if I told her to knock off the "poor me" talk. Perhaps she never really outgrew junior high school.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

TIME CONCEPTS

As with most preschool age kids, Aleita has difficulty with time concepts. Like my nephew Truman, Aleita is having a hard time wrapping her head around the idea of the difference between a nap and going to bed at night. When she wakes up from her nap in the afternoon, she always assumes another day has started. She also can't seem to get the correct terminology nailed down for mealtimes. She will often come in as I am cooking supper and ask what we're having for lunch.

Of late, Aleita's difficulty with time concepts is evident in the difficulty she is having with the timeframe of when we will be moving into our new home. She always thinks that when we discuss moving, it is going to happen tomorrow. As she sees me packing boxes in preparation for the move, she assumes it is because we are pulling up stakes tomorrow. We have explained that it will be in a few weeks, and I even showed her the days on the calendar. I know that if I were one of those supermoms, I would have some cool activity called "X days until move" and we would dutifully march to the calendar each morning and X the day off with a bright red marker and count how many days left until the move. Sorry - with the maze of boxes growing every day in our home, I can barely find my way to the door, much less remember to do the X the calendar thing.

Anyway - today my mom came over and helped me do some packing. When Chris got home from work with the kids in tow, Aleita immediately wanted to start "helping." A 3-year old's help with packing isn't exactly that. Again, the supermom would've found some way for the young child to lend a hand with the packing, but this frazzled mom simply turned on the Backyardigans that my friend Tivo captures for me every day so that I can have a half an hour when we get home each day to quiet the chaos.

Today, Aleita wasn't having it. She looked around the living room and noticed that her books were missing from their baskets. When she asked where they were, I told her that I had packed them, but that I had left a few out for her. She went up to her room and found the ones I hadn't yet packed (so we would have at least a few to read in the next few weeks) and she brought them down to me. "Let me put them in the box," she said. I told her that we were leaving them out so we would have books to read. She started to get very upset, and through our dialogue, I realized that she thought I wasn't packing them because they were getting left behind. Mind you, I left out some of her favorite books and she wasn't about to just leave them there for some other family to enjoy. No, sir indeed - - especially since she can't get the idea out of her head that we are leaving tomorrow.

After she and I had talked about it at great length, I felt she was starting to understand that we were not leaving her books behind. She looked at me thoughtfully for a moment, then said, "I'm going to get my Little People so you can pack them. I'm not leaving them here too!" So much for reasoning with a three-year old.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A BIG DOSE OF REALITY

Maggie had her first heaping helping of reality the other day. As she and Chris were walking into Aleita’s school, she reached up to grab his hand and bumped into his bulletproof vest. She asked him, “Daddy, why do you always wear that?” He answered her honestly, saying that if someone were to shoot at him, it would help protect him from getting hurt.

The look on her face said it all. Up to that point, it had never occurred to her that even though her daddy carries a gun to work everyday, that he himself would ever actually be in danger, let alone that someone may actually try to shoot at him. Chris said that she was very quiet and simply said, “oh,” but she seemed a little shaken by this bit of wisdom she had just received. About that time, they arrived at Aleita’s room to pick her up, and then discussion between them ended there.

I am sure that in a few days, Maggie will bring the matter up again. Maggie is like that - - she will roll something around in her noggin for a while, thinking through a matter before she discusses it. I am sure that her questions will have to do with wanting reassurance that her daddy will be safe when he goes to work.

I often deal with those type of questions when people find out that I am the wife of a police officer. I have had countless people ask me, “doesn’t it worry you?” Well, naturally it does. But I can’t live my life in a constant state of angst. I have to believe that Chris has had the appropriate training and background to appropriately be able to deal with whatever situation arises. I know that he is smart and adept at thinking quickly and staying calm, even in times of extreme duress. I also have to trust in God to provide him protection so he can return home safely to us each night.

Keeping all that in mind at age 32 is difficult sometimes. I am sure for a 6 year old, it may be a little harder.

Monday, September 24, 2007

LET'S PRETEND!

One of Maggie and Aleita’s favorite activities to play together is dress up and let’s pretend. Often times, this activity consists of Maggie costuming Aleita in an eclectic combination of dress up clothes, complete with hat, glasses, and shoes, and then assigning roles. For as headstrong as Aleita is about most things, she is actually willing to go along with whatever role Maggie assigns her in most cases. They have a large box full of dress up clothes, but many times, their choice of clothing doesn’t really represent the game they choose to play.

Case in point: About a week ago, they decided they were going to play school. Aleita was assigned the role of the teacher. For this role, Maggie costumed her in a spaghetti strap black cocktail dress, a pair of pink sequined high heels, about 10 Mardi Gras style beaded necklaces, and a large, blue straw gardening hat. Now, I will admit that I have only talked to Maggie’s teacher a handful of times, but I have yet to see her in anything that even slightly resembles this ensemble.

Last night, they decided to play firefighters. For this game, Aleita’s garb was a cape fashioned from a baby blanket, purple sunglasses, and appropriately enough, a firefighter’s hat. Their firetruck was their little red wagon that is actually meant for pulling dolls in, but Aleita often gets pulled around in it as well. Apparently, they were hearkening back to the days of the horse-drawn fire carriages, as Maggie pulled Aleita around as they went to put out fires.

At one point, after they had just put out a pretend fire, Aleita said to Maggie, “I need to go get my tambourine from my bedroom.” Maggie responded by saying, “Firefighters don’t need tambourines!” But apparently, the little caped firefighter felt differently as she ran off to grab her tambourine. Maggie yelled down the hall after her, “that doesn’t make any sense!!” I guess even she has her limits for pretend play.

Friday, September 21, 2007

HEAD EM' UP, MOVE EM' OUT

There is a thought that keeps running through my head constantly now. . ."WHEN IN THE H*&L AM I GOING TO FIND TIME TO PACK ALL THIS STUFF?" When we first set our date for closing on our house, it was about five weeks away. That seemed like more than enough time to get our things in order and be able to move out. Our moving date is now three weeks away, and I am really not that much closer to getting things ready to go than I was two weeks ago. Panic is starting to set in a little bit. How I am going to get a five bedroom house packed and ready to go in three weeks?

It's not as though I have been sitting around twiddling my thumbs. The past two weeks have been extremely busy for us and have mostly been filled with all those things involved in finding a NEW place to live (it seemed a good idea to have someplace to go to once we actually had all the stuff in boxes.) We now have the new place all ironed out, but finding the time to get our current house packed up is somewhat challenging.

The day gets started about 5:45AM each morning for Chris and me. We both work all day. By the time we pick up the kids and get home from work, it is about 4:30 or 5:00PM. By the time homework is done, supper is made and eaten, baths are given, bedtime books are read and prayers are said, it is pushing 8:00PM. I don't know about you, but after fourteen hours or so on the go, I need a chance to sit down and take a breather for a minute. I know I quite literally need to "get packing," but I am finding that my time, as well as my motivation to do so is limited.

Part of the difficulty also lies in the fact that we are moving to a slightly smaller home, and need to downsize. Chris and I both realize that we have a lot of stuff that we really just need to get rid of because we have allowed too many things to just accumulate that we don't need or use all that often. Moving presents a perfect opportunity to sort through our belongings and cut out some of the unnecessary clutter. The problem is that sorting also takes extra time.

We plan on working on it as much as possible this weekend. However, I am going to have to get myself psyched up to listening to the whining that will commence from the children once they realize we will be working in the house all day packing. Saturday is typically our "go do something day," especially when the weather is nice. We have a family membership to the zoo, so that is a popular Saturday destination spot. It is nice sometimes just to head to the park and let the kids play, and then go somewhere for lunch. When we have stay-at-home Saturdays, it also means that we will be listening to the bickering that will no doubt commence between Maggie and Aleita. They manage to play together nicely for about an hour, then the squabbling begins. It usually results in the two of them being forced to go to separate areas of the house to play so that we don't have to step in to referee an argument every three minutes.

I figure that I will probably end up taking a day or two off of work in the next few weeks to get everything finished up. Packing up without two extra little helpers around is sometimes much easier. It will also make it much easier to get rid of a certain hideously ugly monkey bank that my husband had as a child and insists on moving with us from house to house. Just kidding, honey. . . really.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

WATER STREET VOYEURS

We have several old men a block down the street from us who are quite the voyeurs – they love to watch. Every day, there are at least one or two that set their lawn chairs in a shady spot and just pass the day. . .watching. Several guys in trucks slow down and leisurely cruise by to get a better look. The parking garage attendant across the street from my office sits in his little booth and even uses his binoculars – and he doesn’t even care who sees him do it.

Contrary to what you may think from this introduction, these are not dirty geezers whistling cat calls at all the pretty girls as they pass by on their way to their downtown offices. Not even close. These are all guys who are fascinated by trucks and cranes and concrete and big steel beams. . .and they are all enthralled by the large bank that is being erected on a city block near my workplace. There are two or three older gentlemen who really do camp out with their lawn chairs under the shade trees across the street, simply to watch the building’s progress as it is being built. They will often bring a small cooler with snacks and pop, and pass the day just watching the progress being made by the workman and large machines.

The parking garage attendant is often too absorbed with the progress down the street to even notice when the cars pass by his booth. I am sure the city is missing out on some revenue because he is often so engrossed, watching the construction with his binoculars, that he frequently fails to notice when people drive by the booth and leave without paying.

As I returned from lunch yesterday, I walked past the construction site and watched as a guy in a truck bumped his tires pretty hard into the curb as he was cruising by at the speed of a tortoise because he was so busy rubbernecking at the steel beams and concrete that he hadn’t kept his eyes on where he was going. Thank goodness the guys in the lawn chairs keep themselves a safe distance back on the sidewalk!

What is it about this type of project that causes some men so much fascination? I have yet to see any woman at all give this project much more than a passing glance. . . yet so many of the guys just can’t seem to get enough of it. I guess I would just have to chalk it up to yet one more difference among the genders.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

FIRST GRADE HOMEWORK BLUES

Since when did first grade become so much work? At the beginning of the year, Maggie was so excited to be in first grade and to finally have homework. To her, having homework was synonymous with being a “big kid.” She has since changed her mind and has decided that kindergarten is really where it’s at. She told me that she didn’t know that first grade was going to be so hard, and that she misses getting to play and do artwork like they did in kindergarten. “All we do is read and do math!” she lamented to me yesterday. She also expressed to me that she has changed her mind about that whole wanting homework business.

I have to agree with Maggie in that regard. I had no idea that first grade homework would require between 40 – 45 minutes of our attention every night. I can understand sending home their reading books to practice their reading skills every night, but it is a lot more involved than that. Every night, Maggie and I sit down at the kitchen table and work on:
1) reading that day’s story from her reading book
2) reading an extra book that is sent home for practice
3) completing a page or two of additional reading worksheets that deals with phonics and coding words
4) completing a page or two of math worksheets
5) practicing her spelling words for the test that week
6) memorizing a new Bible verse every night

I try to give Maggie a break as soon as she gets home from school so that she has some time between schoolwork and homework. Most nights, it is not too big of a problem to get her homework completed - we do try to get it done before dinner so that it is done and out of the way. Some nights though, it is difficult to do so. If we have any other obligations right after work, we are sometimes sitting and doing homework at 7:30PM after dinner is over. Completing homework with a tired, teary girl can be somewhat challenging. When that happens, we often have to put it away and just work on it in the morning after breakfast.

I do have to say that Maggie’s reading skills have improved dramatically since the beginning of the year. Her confidence in reading is really growing as well. I'm still not wild about 45 minutes of homework each evening, but I know we'll make it through. Curiously, last week, Aleita's preschool teacher sent home a note saying that if we wanted to do some "homework" with them, she would provide it, and it would be scored and returned to them. I politely checked the "no" box and returned the paper back to school with Aleita. Her time will come soon enough.

Monday, September 17, 2007

MY DEAR HEART

My daughter Maggie is what I refer to as a “dear heart.” She is a sensitive soul, and feels things more deeply than a lot of people do. Maggie gets upset when anyone is hurt or distraught, often becoming upset or distraught herself. When she has to be disciplined, Maggie often sobs and gets upset and laments, “do you love me anymore?” The ultimate punishment for Maggie is to tell her that you are disappointed in her. By all counts, she is an emotional girl.

Maggie and our younger daughter, Aleita, love each other very dearly, but often fight like cats and dogs. Their threshold for playing together peacefully is limited to about ten minute increments before Chris or myself are called upon to intervene to break up a squabble. Maggie has a tendency to be a bit bossy, and Aleita’s behavior has been somewhat, um. . . . trying lately. Aleita doesn’t like to take orders from anyone, least of all her bossy, older sister. Maggie has even commented before, “she’s not a baby. . .she’s three! why does she act like that?" I try to explain that she is not as mature at three as Maggie is at six, but she doesn’t seem to buy into that argument very much.

For as much as they bicker though, Maggie feels deep empathy for Aleita when she gets in trouble. Maggie takes a ride on an emotional roller coaster almost every time her sister has to be disciplined for misbehaving. Last night, as we were getting the kids ready for bed, I was helping Maggie brush her teeth and Aleita was sitting on the toilet. I left the room to grab a washcloth out of the hall closet, and when I returned, Aleita was doing something that I have expressly forbidden her to do - - - dunking her hiney in the toilet. I have given her the lecture about how it is unhygienic and gross, and on and on, but my words have done little to discourage her. I told her that the next time I caught her doing it, she was going to get her little wet hiney spanked. Well, this was the next time.

About this time, Chris came into the bathroom and I caught him up to speed on the hiney-dunking. He was just about as pleased as I was with her new trick. Once Aleita realized that the butt spanks were coming from Daddy and not from Mommy though, she knew she was in for it. Maggie knew too, for she immediately tensed up and her eyes began to tear. As Aleita received her spanking, Maggie ran to her room sobbing and threw herself on the bed. I followed her in to her room and tried to explain that Daddy and I don’t like to spank Aleita, but if she doesn’t do what we tell her to even after we have asked, she has to get a spank so she’ll remember the next time. Through teary eyes, Maggie looked at me and said, “but she’s only three!”

Friday, September 14, 2007

KREKEL'S: MORE THAN JUST A BURGER JOINT

I called Chris late this morning and asked him if he wanted to meet me for lunch. He said that he was really busy today, but wondered if I would bring lunch by instead. We agreed that Krekel's fit the noontime bill. For those of you who are reading this blog from out of the area, I should probably fill you in a bit on Krekel's. Krekel's is something of a Decatur legend - - they have fantastic cheeseburgers that are flattened and crispy on the edges. They also have vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and my favorite, lemon frozen custard. They are also somewhat know for their unusual chicken car. In our area, it is almost considered blasphemous to utter a disparaging word about our beloved Krekel's.

I stopped by the Krekel's on East Wood, the one that you get to right after crossing MLK. I pulled in and parked in the back, then came around front to the dilapidated little burger stand to place my order. The smells wafting from the stand were enough to make my stomach growl. I am always a little embarrassed though, when I order my cheeseburger, fries, and DIET Coke. Gotta save those 200 calories with my Diet Coke so I can eat my burger and fries with 40 grams of fat. Maybe I am hoping they will somehow balance each other out.

At any rate, after I had placed my order, I stepped back from the counter and waited while my food was prepared. It generally only takes about 4-6 minutes, depending on how many other people are waiting. As I stood in the parking lot with the other folks waiting for their lunch, I made the most incredible social observation: Krekel's may be the only place in Decatur that I have ever seen different classes and races of people interact so openly and freely with one another.

In the five minutes or so that I waited for our lunches, I observed social interactions that I dare say you wouldn't see anywhere else in town: as everybody stood around and waited on their order to come up, they. . . talked. To each other. There was a business lady in a skirt and heels chatting with two guys off a construction crew. I saw an elderly gentlemen who pulled in a Cadillac stand and talk to a kid with a half dozen tattoos who was holding up his pants with one hand to keep them from falling down. I even watched a guy in a three-piece suit who drove in a Mercedes convertible help a guy driving a pimped-out Blazer, complete with spinners, carry his large order to his vehicle so he wouldn't drop it. I stood and talked with a nurse from St. Mary's while I waited on my order.

What is it about Krekel's that inspires this sense of community and togetherness? Why do various races and classes of people feel comfortable associating at a run-down little burger stand when they would never have anything to do with each other away from there? Perhaps when our community is studying ways to bring about positive change, they need to examine the Krekel's phenonemon. Krekel's: bringing the community together, one burger at a time.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

DOWN WITH DUSTING!

I think the household chore that I hate more than any other is dusting. Chris and I cleaned the house yesterday, and it seems it is always the chore we put off until the very last. It is one of those things we both hate to do, and most of the time, we try to stay busy doing some other cleaning so that we can avoid being the one to have to do it. Chris will sometimes come find me as I am cleaning and ask, “what else needs to be done?” and I will answer, “dusting.” He will then suddenly find three other things to tackle that are more pressing (as I am staying busy to avoid being the one to have to do it.) Often, if we run out of time, it gets skipped altogether, or just the high spots get hit (I think my mom is probably shuddering as she reads this. . . )

As we cleaned yesterday, I could tell that we could no longer put the dusting off any longer. You can get away with skipping it a few times, then it just becomes too visible to ignore. I am a little ashamed to admit that I had to go shake the dustrag out multiple times outside while I was dusting, and even then, I had to exchange it for a clean one about halfway through. On top of the entertainment center in our bedroom, I think I found the beginnings of another person (the Bible says we’re created from dust, right?)

Part of the problem is all the dusting obstacles we have. . .everybody has dusting obstacles, otherwise known as “stuff.” This stuff consists of things such as knick-knacks and pictures and books and vases and plants and toys and on and on and on. Having to remove all of these dusting obstacles usually takes longer and is a bigger pain than actually doing the dusting itself.

A friend of mine once had a good idea (a bachelor, at the time.) He suggested doubling up a piece of duct tape, and taping it to the bottom of every figurine in the house, then bringing in the leaf blower and letting ‘er rip. Dusting problem solved.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

GIMME A J!

I didn’t know if I was going to write about this or not, but I keep laughing about it, so I feel the need to share. A few weeks ago, a co-worker shared with me that he and his family have been trying to get back in the habit of attending church. They are looking for a place that they enjoy the services and feel comfortable attending. He then relayed a hilarious story about the service that they had attended the Sunday prior in a Decatur-area church which shall remain nameless.

He said that he didn’t realize that the service was going to be as contemporary service as what it was. He explained that he didn’t have an issue with the contemporary style of worship, but he felt that it was done up to the degree that it really took away from what he felt the focus of worship should be. At any rate, he said that the minister was trying to get the congregation up and going and excited about the service, and was having difficulty doing so. Here is the part that made me laugh out loud:

The minister stood before the congregation and led a big ol’ cheer for Jesus. I kid you not.
Minister: Gimme a “J”!
Congregation: “J”!
Minister: Gimme an “E”!
Congregation: “E”!
Minister: Gimme an “S”!
Congregation: “S”!
Minister: Gimme a “U”!
Congregation: “U”!
Minister: Gimme an “S”!
Congregation: “S”!
Minister: What’s that spell?
Congregation: JESUS!!
Minister: LOUDER!
Congregation: JESUS!!!!!
Minister: ONE MORE TIME!
Congregation: JESUS!!!!!
Minister: Let’s hear it for our Lord and Savior!
Congregation: WOO-HOO!!! Alright Jesus! Go Jesus!

If his family ever decides to attend this church again, perhaps they should remember to bring pom-pons. Contemporary indeed.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

NOW YOU SEE IT, NOW YOU DON'T

The kids don’t realize what is coming. . .because if they did, there would be lots of whining and pleading involved. Since we are going to be moving out of our house in a little over a month, I am going to do my best to get organized and get rid of some of the things that we do not need. Some of those things include the kids’ toys that they no longer play with or have outgrown. I try to “thin the herd” so to speak, from time to time, but it has been awhile since I have taken the time to do it.

When I pack up some of those toys they no longer play with, I usually will put them in a box down in the basement, then wait a month or so to see if they actually notice anything is missing. If one of the children notices a particular toy is gone and asks for it, it is spared banishment from the household. However, they usually don’t even realize the change, and after that month has passed, the toys migrate their way to the Salvation Army or the Lutheran Thriftstore.

The problem comes in if one of the children, who infrequently go down into the basement (since it’s mostly used for storage anyway), actually go down into the basement and see the box of toys sitting there. Since they rarely go down there, I make no effort to hide them away. All of a sudden, toys that haven’t been given a second thought in weeks become highly coveted. A battle of wills then ensues to determine if the toys shall stay or go.

Before this week is out, Operation Selective Toy Reduction will have taken place. Though difficult, this process will be nothing compared to Operation Selective Comic Book Reduction and Operation Selective Star Wars Stuff Reduction, which will (hopefully) take place with my husband sometime before our move next month. Stay tuned for the outcome on that one. . .

Monday, September 10, 2007

SOLD!

On Saturday afternoon, we told Maggie we needed to talk to her. I believe the exact words I used were, "Maggie, we have some big news to share with you." All of a sudden, her little face tensed up and she worriedly asked, "Are we getting another baby? I don't want a another little sister!" Chris and I were both laughing so hard that neither of us could answer her for a bit, causing her to repeat louder, "ARE WE GETTING ANOTHER BABY?!?"

Once I stopped laughing, I told her that the news wasn't quite that big. I explained that we had people that wanted to buy our house, and that we would be moving in about a month. She, of course, has asked the same question that everyone else asks once I tell them the house has sold: "where are we moving to?"

That is a good question. The answer is: I don't know just yet. Chris and I agreed that we didn't want to do too much house hunting before we had committed buyers for our house. It is just too disappointing to find a house you really like, but not be able to move on it because your house hasn't sold yet. We also refuse to do a bridge loan because we are not willing to get ourselves in over our heads by having two homes at once.

Unfortunately, this means that we are now concentrating a lot of our efforts on finding new digs. We have agreed that we aren't going to "settle," and that if we don't find what we want right away, we'll rent for awhile until we do. Hopefully that won't be the case, but we'll have to see. When we bought the house we live in now, there was about a month between when we sold our previous home to when we could move into our new one. My parents were generous enough to let us live with them during that time. At that time though, Maggie was only 9 months old and still a cute little cuddly baby. Now Maggie is six, and Aleita is three and the energy and noise level has dramatically increased (to say the least.) I am not sure if Grandpa and Grandma would be ready for a month with our two wild ones.

For now, I am a little overwhelmed by the idea of packing up an entire house in about a month. I know it will all come together, but I know my stress level is definitely already a little elevated. Got any plans for October 13th? Moving party at my house!!

Friday, September 7, 2007

ONE HOT MOM

As I was driving home from work yesterday, I saw something that caused me to laugh out loud. I have a habit of reading license plates of the vehicles in traffic around me. One such license plate that I read yesterday was "HOT MOM 6." This license plate was the tag for a mini van.

Now I am not knocking minivans -- so all you minivan drivers please don't start leaving hateful comments just yet. I am sure that there indeed are a lot of HOT MOMs driving minivans. . .but how many would publicly announce it? What amused me so much about this plate was the fact that in the world of "SCR MOM" and "MOM OF 3" and "MOMS VAN," this mom had a very different way that she chose to reveal who she was to other motorists. This lady definitely does not lack self-confidence. She feels she looks fine, and by goodness, the world should know about it. I am all about having a great self-image, but I don't think I would personally be comfortable putting it out there quite like that.

I wondered then about the age of her kids. If they are little and oblivious to the license plate thing at this point, that is probably for the best. I can't imagine when they turn about 12 years old and they have to get dropped off at school by "HOT MOM 6." Imagine the comments they will have to endure from their friends? They will likely beg to be dropped off three blocks from school so they can walk the rest of the way.

I wonder if HOT MOM 6 is one of those moms who is obsessed with staying youthful, and insists on being her kids' friend, rather than an actual parent (Also known as COOL MOM.) Is she that mom that shows up at school functions in a ridiculously low-cut blouse and booty cutters and egregiously flirts with the science teacher? Is this the mom that tries to encourage her 14 year old daughter to date older boys so she can get asked to the prom? Does she try to live vicariously through her children? I can almost see the news headlines now: "HOT MOM 6 busted for providing alcohol at party for 16 year olds."

I am, of course, making some huge speculations based upon a license plate. I wonder just how close to the truth I've come though. . . .

Thursday, September 6, 2007

HEY! YOU WANNA BUY SOME CANDY? HOW ABOUT SOME WRAPPING PAPER? WHAT ABOUT A MAGAZINE? HEY! COME BACK HERE!!!

Ah September, the time of year when the leaves start to turn colors and fall from the trees, when farmers return to the fields to harvest the crops, when Friday night football games are the draw for local schools, and when the kids return to school and start begging for money from everyone they know. Actually, it seems to me that it is often the parents that get stuck doing the majority of the begging. The schools refer to it as "fundraising." Already this fall I have bought some wrapping paper, a tin of candy, and a Bossy Bingo ticket (a lovely contest in which tickets are sold, and a field is divided into numbered squares - - a cow is then led onto the field, and if good ol' Bossy yields to nature's call on the square that matches your numbered ticket, you are the winner of $1,000.)

Maggie's school has the kids selling magazine subscriptions again this year. (i.e. I have been selling magazine subscriptions for Maggie's school this year.) Let me start by saying that I hate asking other people for money or donations. It's just not something I am comfortable doing. I realize that the school needs to raise funds, but I know that people are getting hit up left and right at this time of year to buy stuff from kids' fundraisers. I am probably not the best salesperson in the world. My attitude is that if you want to buy a subscription, that's great; if not, that's ok too.

The one thing that I am at least happy about regarding this fundraiser is that the magazines are sold through the Reader's Digest company. They do have a great selection, and the prices are actually better than you can get if you go through the company directly in most cases. Some people are happy because they can support the school without buying something fattening, like chocolates or pizza. The problem that I keep running into is that so many people, including myself, already receive such a bevy of magazines that adding yet another subscription is somewhat unnecessary. In fact, I have heard from several people that they are actually trying to reduce the number of subscriptions they currently receive. Although you can renew a magazine that you currently get through the school's magazine drive, sometimes the deals that the company offers make it somewhat comical to do so - - there are many good deals where you get two years for the price of one - - in fact, my Entertainment Weekly is now renewed until 2010.

Soon, we are going to have a slew of magazines being delivered to our house. A few weeks ago, I got a letter from United Airlines letting me know that some of my frequent flyer miles would soon be expiring. A new strategy for airlines to allow you to use frequent flyer miles that are close to expiring (and you don't have enough for a ticket) is to trade them in for magazine subscriptions. With my miles, I got three new subscriptions, to go with the other five we already have. Do we get all of them read? Not hardly. I always read all of my Reader's Digest and my Mental Floss. I read most of the Entertainment Weekly. The others mainly get a good skimming. I do take some comfort in the fact that I can bring the magazines to work to leave in the lobby area, and other people do actually read them. So, even if I am not reading my magazines, at least someone is.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

South Carolina Must Be So Proud!

Just in case you haven't seen this one, it is a clip from the Miss Teen USA Pageant that was held last week. I actually was flipping through channels and saw this happen. I immediately thought, "this is going to end up on You Tube!"

Click on the link, and just enjoy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lj3iNxZ8Dww



Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Privy to a Family Moment

Apparently, when I am in the bathroom at home, there are neon signs that light up outside the door that point and flash and direct everyone to come on in - at least my immediate family anyway. I have come to accept that if I want privacy, the bathroom is not the place I am likely to find it. A few nights ago after we had finished supper, Chris was downstairs reading a book and the kids were downstairs playing. I took the opportunity to take a moment for myself and take a soak in the tub.

After I had been in the tub about 3.6 seconds, the children must've looked around downstairs and figured out that I wasn't there. They must have sensed they were missing out on some sort of excitement that was being had without their knowledge. I heard them tromping up the stairs, then begin the room to room search asking, "Mommy?" I sunk a little lower in the tub and sighed. It was only a matter of seconds before my serene setting was shattered as two little girls came bursting through the bathroom door.

Watcha doin', Mommy?" questioned Aleita. My standard answer when one of my children asks a question with an obvious answer is the one I gave to her, "painting the walls - - don't they look great?" "You're not painting!" she said, "you're takin' a bath!" Then she did what she always does when she happens upon me in the bathtub - - she insists that I must have some toys to play with. As much as I try to convince her that I am just fine without any toys, she in turn persists that I indeed do need some. After all, what is a bath without toys? Why bother to even get in the water if not to play? Our conversation went something like this:
Aleita: Do you want a Polly Pocket?
Me: No, thank you.
Aleita: Do you want a bath flute?
Me: No, thank you.
Aleita: Do you want a fish?
Me: No, thank you.
Aleita: Do you want a boat?
Me: No, thank you.
Aleita: Do you want a duck?
Me: Yes, of course, I would love a duck. (this will go on indefinitely unless I actually give in and take something.) Aleita, then satisfied, hands me a duck and sits down on the floor to dig through the rest of the basket of the bath toys to find something for herself to play.

In the meantime, Maggie is sitting on the toilet, singing "Jingle Bells," and coloring a picture. A few moments later, Chris came in and we had a discussion about who is picking up the kids after school the next day. While we're talking, the dog decided that since everyone else is in the bathroom, he too must join in on the fun.

Yes, we do have a lock on the door, but if I actually do remember to engage it, I am then subject to both children tapping and knocking on the door or rattling the knob the entire time I am in there. This is usually accompanied by little fingers wiggling under the door and them laying on the floor with their mouth pressed to the opening going, "MOMMMMMMYYYYY......what are you DOOOINNNNNGGGG?"

Some people complain because they never do anything together as a family. If I want family togetherness, all I have to do is run a bath.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Decatur Garcia's = Thumbs Down!

A friend and I ate lunch on Friday at Garcia's Pizza. I was very excited when we got a Garcia's back in Decatur - we previously had one at the mall, but it closed several years ago, I believe after a number of repeated health code violations and the effects of poor management. At any rate, prior to this spring, if I wanted a Gutbuster, the nearest location was in Champaign. This past Friday, I was jonesin' for a Gutbuster, so off to Garcia's we went. After we ordered and sat down, I realized that there were about five televisions located in the fairly small space of Garcia's - - all of the blaringly loud, and tuned to the Jerry Springer Show. My friend and I tried to carry on a conversation, but it was nearly impossible with the trash blaring from the television sets around us.

And speaking of trash, after we were seated, I noticed that the garbage cans were overflowing, and the floors looked as though they hadn't been swept in a month. YUCK. I even went up to the counter to ask someone to turn the channel and turn the volume down on the TVs. The girl behind the counter said she would ask the manager. After about five minutes, he came out from behind the counter and shouted to me from across the restaurant that something was wrong with the TV and that was the only station they could get. We were almost done eating at that point, so I didn't press the matter. If it were me though, and my choice were Jerry Springer or nothing, I would definitely pick nothing.

I don't think I will be back to this Garcia's again anytime soon. If this one follows in its predecessor's footsteps, it too will likely fall victim to poor management. If I need to satisfy my Gutbuster craving, looks like I will have to head to Champaign.

Friday, August 31, 2007

MINE!

My three year old follows a basic rule: What's mine is mine, and what's yours is mine. Aleita is the first to become upset and insulted if you refuse to share something with her, but the very last to actually concede to share something of hers with you. When she wants something of yours, she will oft remind you that it is nice to share - - which indeed works out nicely for her. She stands in stark contrast to our older daughter, Maggie. Maggie has a very tender heart and even from a very early age, has always been willing to share whatever she has with you - - sometimes to a fault where she will find herself without because she's given away all that she has. Aleita on the other hand. . .

A few nights ago, after I was done giving Aleita her bath, I was drying her off and reached over to drain the tub. She started to reach in and grab the bath toys out to put them back in the toy bucket that sits beside the tub. I told her to just leave them there, because Maggie was taking a bath next and would want to play with them. "I don't WANT Maggie to play with them," she declared, and started to pull them out of the tub anyway. I reminded Aleita that her bath was done and that she wouldn't be playing with them anymore, as well as the fact that most of the toys in the tub were Maggie's anyway, but she was adamant about the fact that her sister should not partake in the same bathtime frivolity in which she had just engaged. Despite her tears and a small fit, the toys stayed put. Aleita was "not happy about this." (see my blog entry from 8/24/07 for that story.)

Aleita will often ask Maggie to share her dolls with her, but seldom is the time that she will return the favor. On the occasion that Maggie asks to play with one of Aleita's dolls, she will gather them all up in her arms and carry them around with her so that can't get them. Likewise, when she plays with the Thomas the Train set at Von Maur in the Children's Department, she will rush around the set, gathering up the train cars and piling them in front of her. When another child comes along and wants to play as well, I tell Aleita to share - - this usually results in that child being handed a wooden person and a caboose (and Aleita eventually getting drug away from the train set screaming because she refuses to share.) This morning, Aleita was watching a few minutes of TV shortly before Chris took her to school. As he told her to come upstairs to brush her teeth, she and Maggie passed on the stairs. Aleita let out a pained yell, but did proceed up the stairs. When Chris asked her what was wrong, she sourly replied, "I don't want Maggie to watch the TV."

Perhaps the most telling example of Aleita's unwillingness to share occurred in church last Sunday. Last week, near the beginning of the service, I had given Maggie and Aleita each a roll of Smarties candy. Aleita gobbled hers down in the blink of an eye, but Maggie's more of a savorer. She was slowly eating her candy, one piece at a time. Once Aleita realized that Maggie still had candy, she requested that she give her some. I told Aleita that she had already had her own, and that was Maggie's to eat. She persisted, saying, "but it's nice to share!" When I told her no again, she pouted. Shortly thereafter, our minister began the passing of the peace:
Rev Ellen: The peace of Christ be with you
Congregation: and also with you.
Rev Ellen: Please share that with those around you
As everyone stood and began shaking hands and greeting each other, one small, pouty girl, with arms folded, could scarcely be heard saying, "I don't want to share!"

Thursday, August 30, 2007

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO DICK AND JANE?

Only a week ago this time, Maggie was lamenting that she did not have any homework. Fast forward one week: I enter the door to the after-school care program to pick her up - - she runs to greet me with a hug, then frowns, drops her shoulders and says, "I have more homework." I have explained to her a few times that her teacher said she would have a little homework every night, but so far, that hasn't sunk in.

So far, first grade homework consists of: 1) a sheet of math homework (usually counting and coloring are involved) 2) a sheet of basic reading work, like writing the beginning letter of each picture - - if there is a bird pictured, she writes a "b." 3) memorizing a new Bible verse every night (for those of you who don't know, Maggie goes to a private, religous-based school) 4) reading pages from her primary reader with a parent.

That last one is the crux of the homework dilemma. She enjoys doing the math pages and the reading pages, and so far, she hasn't had any trouble memorizing the Bible verses (and last night's was John 3:16 - - I thought we'd be in for trouble, but she did a great job!) No, the kicker for Maggie is that learning to read just ain't easy. And if it don't come easy, Maggie isn't a big fan of it.

I can't say that I really blame her. The plot line in her stories isn't exactly mesmerizing. Gone are the days of Dick and Jane in the primary reader, though not that they themselves had many fascinating adventures. So far in Maggie's primer, we have met Nan and Ann and Dan and Dad. They do a lot of running, as in, "Ann ran. Nan ran. Ann and Nan ran to Dad." They did introduce a new character to the story, "Adam" in last night's pages. I must admit, I was so glad to see someone new - - hallelujah! He even brought a new verb with him! Adam is apparently more talented than Nan and Ann and the rest, because he not only runs, but he also drums. That's right, Adam runs AND drums. Nan and Ann seem to be fascinated by this, but they unfortunately have a limited vocabulary with which to express themselves, so they simply continue to run while Adam drums. Maybe they will soon learn the word "sit" so they can quit running and take a break already.

In all seriousness though, I really do feel for Maggie as she sits and struggles through the difficulty of learning to read. I actually remember being her age and struggling with that very thing myself. I recall crying and putting up a fight when I couldn't make the words come out right when reading with my mom - - much like Maggie is doing now. She'll get there. . .I know she will. And in the meantime, Chris and I will dutifully listen to her regale us with tales of monosyllabic characters and their repetitive actions as she works on becoming a reader.