Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Not Ready for Anything Beyond Today

Somehow, a three day weekend threw me off royally.  This Tuesday reminds me of when one of my children goes to a friend's home for a night, my rhythm the next morning is missing.  The void of that presence, even if they're normally not up early in the day seems to color everything else around me, as I can think of 1000 things I'd do with the one child that's missing.   Likewise, if I'm out with only some of my children, my arms keep reaching out and my eyes keep darting about worrying that I'm missing someone.  It's some how harder to keep count when there are less than the full ten at my side. 

Getting ready for graduation and one child moving on into the beginning of the adult world, my brain starts to swim with all the changes that will come once September rolls around.  Paul will be in a pre-school somewhere but we're still in the process of going through placement.  Five will be in elementary/middle school,  one in high school and that leaves a four year old who should go to pre-school but I'm waiting to figure out what the fall schedule will be before I can act, and the baby.   The juggling of three schools plus college threatens to overwhelm me even before we start.     

And then the immediate needs of my family snap me to my senses. The girls want a snack, Paul needs a change and the baby wants a bottle.  I have to take care of today.  That's it.  When today is in September, I will take care of that day, but right now, we're finishing May and I just have to work with these 24 hours and understand that I can grow anxiety any time I want, but it won't help with the tasks at hand now or then, so I should just weed those strangling vines of thought out of my head, pulling them for as long as they snare until there is nothing left.  

Today we have a driver's test and I have to reschedule an annual physical for two of my children; the older ones have band and I need to pay the bills and water the garden as it is 89 degrees outside.  I have two chickens and some potatoes to cook for dinner that should start in the oven around 4, and three thank you notes to write.   Plenty to manage in one day, no need to borrow from a tomorrow ninety days away. 

Time can crush the spirit if we allow the clock to rule the mind; measuring every moment like a commodity to be used, frittered, drained, wasted.  The day becomes a dreadful manifest of what we don't get to or don't finish. My to do list likes to nag that way; complaining every moment I'm on task and all the time I'm not.  Fortunately I have one daughter who makes the whole sun and a car out of construction paper and another girl who attacking the paper with a confidence despite not knowing what her drawing will be.  My baby plays with my nose and tries to hold her bottle while keeping her eyes locked on mine.  Her face flowers into a wide smile and my son creates his own world with a toy truck, giraffe, tiger, zebra and farmer at the table.  It's hard to get worked up about all that needs to be done when so much is happening in these slow unscheduled minutes.  

So I am not ready for anything beyond today, but thankfully, I have been reminded, that's all I have to be ready to do.  

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Mothering the Sous Chef Way

You know those cooking shows where the smiling perfectly coifed chef whips up four fabulous healthy dishes in 30 minutes? They have a secret. A sous chef.
For those out there who don’t follow cooking shows –I’m a closet addict. Even when we didn’t have cable, when I’d be at a hotel, I watch them in a binge style fashion, trying to digest every tip and dish by channel surfing the Food Network, Every Day with Rachel Ray and whatever chef being showcased on Lifestyle. Between that and repeated watchings of Ratatouille, I learned a sous chef pre-prepares everything for the headlined chef. Measuring salt, cutting chives, defrosting the food, scoring the meat, peeling the garlic, that sort of thing that adds time and usually mess to cooking.

We don’t see a chef pondering…I have frozen sausage, peas, whole wheat pasta which the kids hate, no butter, no milk and we’re out of diet coke. What am I making for dinner?

We don’t see the chef on TV then feebly put the sausage, peas and wheat pasta together with a can of stewed tomatoes to earn universal displeasure. We don’t actually ever see the chefs sit down to eat more than a bite of their creations. Okay, so maybe we do have one thing in common.

I started studying the other Home tip shows and they have the equivalent of sous chefs for everything. When they are showing how to fold laundry better, their dryer is not overstuffed with towels. The load is small, manageable and no happy meal toys are pulled out of a sock melted and molded to the interior. Nothing is accidentally pink. The sous chef of washing and drying must have presorted and ensured that the wash was done before it became the size of a baby mastodon.

When the hosts of “Better TV for Women” kind of shows goes to the grocery store, her cart is organized, neat and does not have six boxes of mac&cheese, frozen waffles and canned pineapple. No. Her cart has shredded cheese, the makings for Swedish filled pancakes and fresh pineapple from Hawaii.

My cart overflows to a second cart. Lodged between the Ragu and the Laundry detergent, 12 pack of paper towels and size six and four and two diapers, there have been reported sightings of actual vegetables and fruits (Carrots, potatoes and bananas) and there is a large vat of ketchup. Her cart has brussel sprouts which will be braised in freshly bought balsamic vinegar with endive. She also has a perky little pint of kumquats for flavor and color and a large gallon size jug of vinegar –for cleaning, but I don’t see any serious supplies like SOS pads or toilet scrubbers.

Mine cost $231.47 and has fish sticks and will feed ten I hope for one week.

Hers has fresh fish, feeds four and will last one night. People who have sous chefs don't do frozen.
Our carts contents cost the same.

She pays in cash if they bother to show her checking out, where as I am the debit master, who then has to opt for a credit card because my debit card has decided it’s not feeling well today and won’t go through.

I want a sous chef life experience where I am the master chef. I want to live unharried, unhurried, unhasselled by undefrosted meats and undeterred by mere minor inconvient truths like picky eaters and budgets.

So starting today, I decided I need an army of sous chefs. I am going to train all my little darlings to be sous chefs in different areas of life and thus I will be the host of my own reality show. “Mothering the Sherry Way” or “Ten Children and How They Sous.”

In my fantasy reality tv show, the Oldest, every day will Sous the garbage in the house by patrolling the cans of the house. He also has the honor of helping with the lawn and providing free babysitting. "It's a sous thing." I'll explain. Next in line shall have the sousing of the bathrooms, wiping the counters and windexing the mirrors, securing toilet paper if necessary. The third shall sous the dishwasher, emptying it before next round of dishes are needed. The fourth shall sous the beds, making them. The fifth shall sous the kitchen floor with a vacuum. The youngest two ambulatory shall wipe the table and pick up all the toys on the floor to put in a basket. Like the little dishes for condiments in cooking shows, I’ll have baskets for everything.

With the Sous method in place, I will be able to brush my hair and smile in my freshly laundered apron as I explain how to make dinner when all you have is frozen sausage, wheat pasta and peas. “You pick up the phone and dial 1-800-PIZZA ME!”

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Small Successes Thursday

Every week, we stop and count the victories that are part of every day.  It's hard to remember to recognize that the business of mothering is measured in moments ;in all those times when we don't get caught up in whether or not we got to everything on our to-do list, but whether we knew when to stop doing the to-do list to do what matters most. 

Success is measured in the times we read one more story, stopped folding and went outside to kick a soccer ball or spent some time we'd prefer to be busy, being present to those around us, showing love in the methods that are in many cases, out of our comfort zone.  For me, I love to show love by doing works  (chores of the house) and (obviously) words.  So it is important for me to remember to use touch (hugs, rubs), to give time (stories, games) and gifts (cards, remembering birthdays, anniversaries, etc, sending letters). 

So this week I:

1) introduced my third grade to the real world of Harry Potter by reading the first chapter aloud.  She's hooked. 

2) taught my son to play Sodoku.  Think he will find this a great challenge and a lot of fun.

3) Spent time playing cards with the kids on Sunday.

4) Working on continuing the rosary on a daily basis. 

5) Made a pitch to a magazine, they said yes.  Now I have to write the article.  Have begun research. 

6) Did yoga one day and one daughter joined me and is really into it, so she is trying to get me to do it with her.  I need to stop resisting because there are other things to do and do it. 

Have some successes to share?  Don't be shy!  Either leave your list (3 or more) in the comments or use Mr. Linky to let us know to visit your blog.  Then go visit the other blogs that participated this week, meet some voices in the blogosphere and discover you aren't alone in the struggle to every day pour out something more than yourself for others.  

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Cure for Seasonal Foodie Obsession Disorder

I suffer from seasonal foodie obsession disorder or SFOD.

Last summer when I went to the pick your own produce farm, it started. I’ll began by picking too many strawberries, inducing me to once again consider learning how to make jam. I bought the fancy jam jars and pectin and little hand produced book on how to make jellies and preserves. Then I started reading the recipe and my brain froze up, so I just fed the kids waffles with berries for dinner two nights in a row and used up the excess that way.

The jars sat in the closet next to the jars I bought and forgot about the year before. I promised myself I'd make it up to them the next time I went berry picking.

Then, a friend invited me on an innocent trip to the Amish market I never knew about. Perusing all those freshly cleaned chickens and gorgeous fresh chops, I impulsively purchased enough meat to survive a nuclear winter.

“Sherry? What good is it to purchase fresh meat if we’re just going to freeze it?” My husband asked.

Up to my neck in butcher block paper, I just smiled. “You’ll thank me once you taste it.” I promised as I fired up the grill for a mixed feast of roasted goodies. "Could you taste the difference?" I asked eagerly. "Not really." my husband admitted. The kids shook their heads, but hey, they weren't upset, chops off the grill were awesome. I was certain a steady diet of it would eventually enlighten their palates.

Over the next few weeks, I began scanning those gourmet catalogs from the mail, my eyes lingering over the Bee Hive Pizza Oven Outside Grill and the specially imported knives guaranteed to cut through even bone. My husband found the strategically placed dog eared pages of some on his side of the bed. “Sherr?”

“Well, my birthday’s coming up…just in case you need any ideas.”

We went to the public library and I checked out seventeen different cook books, to try things out. Driving my son home from baseball practice, I discovered NPR’s “The Splendid Table” and a few other radio cooking shows which became my substitute for music in the afternoon. I could feel myself slipping into the obsessive compulsive gourmet cook want-a-be as I filled out the form for my buy one, get five free magazine subscriptions, all of them dealing with food. It began to interfere with regular life, as I now required draconian type silence from my toddlers when the morning shows did their 10 minute cooking spot, and I growled whenever someone switched it from the Food channel.

The local grocery store was no longer sufficient for our family’s daily repast. Shopping for the proper ingredients required three separate visits to get the true staples, one at the specialty shop in the scary strip mall, one in the market only open on Thursday and a special pilgrimage on the freeway to the one store in the tri-state area with the RIGHT basalmic vinegar, saffron, organic eggs and creme fraise. Eventually, my needs could only be met by the outrageously-beyond-all-sense-over-priced gourmet stores where the vegetables are so bright, they're probably hand painted with acrylics at the New York school of Art. Witnessed scrutinizing a clutch of bananas for color, firmness and consistency and pulling off only the acceptable ones to create my own bunch; my family began to feel unease.

What stopped the long skid into bankruptcy that summer was the harsh cold reality of my children. They could humor my fledging steps into multi-hued pasta as long as I covered it with enough olive oil and cheese. They indulged my attempt at rosemary potatoes, as I served grilled pork tenderloin on the side. However, they drew the line at goat cheese wrapped in radicchio and pinned together by a tooth pick with a piece of Italian bacon.

My husband had called home to say he’d be working late when I served this latest elegant creation, thus the kids decided to perform an intervention. They stood there, bowls in hand, armed with spoons and a large box of sugar frosted cereal. The oldest had already poured each child their preferred portion and the second stood ready with the milk. “We’re fixing our own dinner Mom.” They explained.

“But what about my Italian appetizer?”
“You can have it Mom.” The oldest gallantly offered.
“Enjoy.” said his younger brother.

And there I sat, eating smoked goat cheese, wrapped in wilted purple lettuce, pulling off the toothpick to tug at the chewy bacon. After the third appetizer, I conceded that perhaps I had gone too far. Placing the remainder in plastic wrap for their father, I pledged to keep my foodie impulses in check by always ensuring some element of dinner was readily identifiable to children under the age of 12.

“Are you sure?” My second daughter asked, hands on her hips. She always has been a bit of a skeptic.

“I promise.” I nodded meekly. “Please, pass the frosted flakes.”

And I’ve kept that promise throughout the year but then today in the mail, I found a flyer. “Berry Picking starts Tuesday!” Maybe this year, I’ll make my own jam.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Why Even if I had a GPS, I'd Still Get Lost for not Listening Closely Enough

By coincidence, my safe driver discount and new insurance card came in the mail today.

A conversation in the car.

"Hey Mom! Can you count to 100?"  "Yes."
"Now?"  "No."

 "How about you count to 100 by 9's."
"Can you count to 100 by seven's?"
"Mommm? I'm hungry."
                                     "We just had breakfast."
"But I'm still hungry.  There's a McDonald's. It's right there. I see it."
"But I'm starving starving starving."

             "Where are we going?"
                     "We're going to..."
"I bet we're going to the library.  Last time I went to the library, we got a book and I lost it but then I found it and it's in my book shelf. It's on zebras." 

"You lost a book?

What book?"
"I don't remember. So are we going to the library? or for ice cream?" "Neither, we're going to..."
"Hey MOM! I can count by fives.  5-10-23.  Can you help me count by fives?" "Still hungry."
"What's seven plus 15?"
 "What is this a quiz?"
"Mommm! Can you count by fives with me?"
"5101520253035404550556065707580859095100 AMEN!"
"Mom! You said Amen! and we're not even doing prayers." Giggles start.  "She's not saying prayers." the other two start giggling.  "Amen!"  "5678910AMEN!"  "3 AMEN!"  "75 AMEN!" More giggles.

"Hey Mom?"
"Where Are we going?" "22 Amen!" "55555Amen!" Giggle giggle giggle.


And I realize I honestly can't remember.
"Can we get lunch?"  "AMEN!"

**I made a wrong turn trying to get to my pediatrician's office of now going on 13 years as a result of attempting to remember all of this...the things I do for you people.

The Dog Caught the Car

For those not familiar with the writing for more than fun model, professional writers are supposed to make pitches to magazines somewhere between three to six months before a magazine will run the feature.  The editor then says,something like "That sounds good, go for it.  It's due in six weeks or what have you." and the writer then labors to craft what they said they wanted to write.  Because I've mostly stayed in the safe cocoon of writing blogs and one shot wonders, I never pitched. 

Part of it was being a young (in writing terms) writer, I don't think six months ahead.  In my own life, six minutes ahead is pushing it.  But I'd been wanting to grow and the one shot markets with the advent of blogs, have dried up a bit, (Why buy the cow) so I knew I'd have to start branching out if I wanted to continue. 

So last week, I made a pitch.  I got a yes. 

Now I am scared out of my mind that I will finally prove in print, I am an idiot.  Mind you, with typos, mishaps and misspellings, the Internet already has sufficient documentation, but I can always shrug and say, "Hey, it's the Internet. What you gonna do?"  I'm also worried I'll choke.  I have a history of this to back up that fear.  In grade school, whenever the volley ball would be sent my way, it either found the floor or my head but never my perfectly positioned to bump arms. In my biggest dancing role ever in high school, we had these cool pink poodle skirts we were supposed to rip off to reveal pedal pusher shorts when the music switched from the 50's to the 60's.  My skirt fell off 8 counts into the music.  Graduate school, graduation day;  I'm going to have a Master's.  I back up the car at the grocery store and a truck scrapes my door, making the passenger side inoperable.  My history is replete with these sorts of moments.

So now I get to work and I can't wait...but having gotten the first part of the yes, I admit to having a huge wave of stupid wash over me as I stare at the blank page at what is supposed to be a "real" article.  I am the dog that caught the car.  Now what?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

If It Were the End of the World...

God picked a great day to do it.  The sun is shining.  It is a pleasant cool spring morning and all my children are healthy and we are playing cards.  We slept in.  We ate date bread, buttered toast and cantelope.  The kids watched cartoons.  Their father weeded the tomatoes and I clicked through a few stories of the day.  We made a grocery list and I did the morning dishes.  We walked around the yard looking at all the plants blooming and coming up and my husband watered the flowers.  I tried to get worked up about the house but couldn't.  It's still a mess and somehow today, I'm detached from what normally drives me crazy.  The day is simply too pleasant to allow irritation and mundane littleness to interrupt. 

One daughter does homework, another is watching the Disney musical on Sharpay and there's a monster car race on the wii staring three kids who can't drive.   Exams are two weeks away and I've dutifully recorded the invitations to a swimming party and a sleep over on the calendar.  My four year old is wearing two types of stripes and is eating the last of the pasta shells from lunch while my husband and I split a diet coke.  She spent the morning snuggling with me in my lap wherever I went and it was delicious.  

Someone posted "It's the End of the World as We know it." by R.E.M. and we listen to it, but even the catchy refrain gets tired.  It's hard even to engage in satire when the beautiful air and the perfect temperature and the lovely sun converge to create a sense of the Earth at a profoundly settled peaceful moment.  My two year old is looking at a book in his room. There's plenty to do and it will get done, there's plenty to address, plenty to get worked up over, but it will all keep.

My daughter jokes that if this is how it's gonna end, she wanted to go to the bookstore and use all her gift cards so she could finish a couple of manga series before the end of all things.   Another said, we should feast and above all, today is a day to use credit cards and not count calories.  I suspect that tomorrow will indeed come, and even that's okay.  Amazingly, the day spools out like maple syrup, with deliberate slowness. Every breath is precious, and all anxiety seems oddly impossible.  The day feels graced.  Maybe all days are, it's just we're often too busy, too distracted, too willing to be caught up by time to notice all the ways in which the world is wrapped in beauty. 

We aren't supposed to live like there's no tomorrow, we're supposed to love like it's forever because it's supposed to be.  If it were the end of the world, it's a great day for apocalypse and it would be too bad we can't have more days like today. 

I said that?

“Don’t put stickers on the car door!”

“What are you doing?” to a teenager stuffing an entire tortilla into his mouth in one swoop.

"Why are these here?" asked upon finding six dixie cups of frozen water that now adhere to the floor of the freezer. 
“Please, give me the hammer back…Now!”

There are sentences that need no other explanation in the civilized world other than to say, “I am a parent.” Usually, they translate as imperatives that for all sentient beings, would never need be spoken.

Yet I have begun collecting them as samples of what my offspring require to survive 24 hours in my care. While on the phone with my brother, I heard similar utterances from him at his three children. “Put that down! Stop running into the window!” I started to laugh until I had to shout, “Don’t sit on the baby!” Now it was his turn, but we both recognized conversation was impossible and hung up.

My friends started giving me samples too. "At least it's non-toxic." My sister said as her beloved 2 year old sampled playdough. 

“Who told you you could color your arm purple?” from a kindergarten mom. (It was picture day at school). “It’s a free dress day. I don’t have to wear my uniform.” was the child’s explanation.

My personal favorite was “You made dinner?” from a mother who said she’s still finding sauce stains in her kitchen from her fifth grader's experiment.

What is unsaid and unexplained about raising children often transcends what stories are told. Part of the omission is from personal shame. We can’t explain why our child had a three gallon water bottle in the middle of his room. We asked. He didn’t want to get up in the middle of the night to go the extra five feet to his bathroom sink to get a drink. We still don’t understand. 

Part of it is the dim recognition that too much truth may be unbearable. Yes, she colored on the piano with a permanent black marker. Yes, he hid dirty clothes in a drawer until they fermented. Yes the toddler took a bite out of a tomato because she thought it was an apple and spiked the offending vegetable onto the newly clean floor. The amount of labor and property damage in those three sentences alone may be enough to doom the human race if universally disseminated.

When I asked my mom about these sorts of odd phrases that were coming out of my mouth as correctives of my children, she laughed. “I told you about that when you were a kid...” “What was that? Mom? Hold on. Sweetie, stop squirting the instant mop on the wooden floor. Don’t pull your brother on a towel…” “But Mommmmm, we were playing sled.”

"What was that Mom?"
“See dear, you just weren’t listening.” My Mom answered over the phone.

It may be a dodge, but it’s a good dodge. I’m keeping it for when my kids have kids.

P.S. Today I said, and meant with all my heart, "Don't throw the cat at the chandelier." Son was tossing his beanie baby in the empty dining room and it got stuck. It's like they're secretly reading these posts!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Small Success Thursday

Hello and welcome to week two of hosting Small Success Thursday.  Each week we stop to think about how in the past seven days, we've made progress towards the personal, professional, spiritual and parental goals we have for ourselves.  It's a weekly report that for me, helps keep me on task, grateful for all that is, and honest about what I need to do.  

To kick things off this week I:

1) Held a birthday party for a fifteen year old with fifteen other fifteen year olds.  It was actually quite fun and easy, we supplied food. They played, they laughed, they took pictures and went outside to run around, they watched a movie and I have to say, I love my daughter and I love her choice in friends.  They were all lovely.  It's a pleasure to see her growing up.

2) Writing wise this week I worked on Helen! My book is now 51,000 words, 114 of the 207 so far have been cleaned up and for me, it's a big deal because I'd been stuck at 49.5K for the LONGEST time.  However the phrase "Progress, not perfection." is my touchstone for returning again and again to work on this coming on four year old project. Stop trying to write THE novel and write Your book.  Have fun and recognize that even if it is never published, if I finish it, I will be able to say I wrote a book and that means something, like finishing a marathon even if you aren't under qualifying time. 

3) Had a picnic indoors, played trains and made chocolate chip cookies this week with the kids.  Tomorrow is their big show at school and we will be going.  I am looking forward to this; I have resolved to stop viewing going out as a giant obstacle (which was how I viewed loading the car), and take pleasure in the process.  

4) Made it to the sacrament of reconciliation this week and booked my youngest daughter's baptism.

5) Took a night off --stopped working at 10 pm and started reading a book.

Now it's your turn.  Sign in using Mr. Linky and at your blog, list three or more successes from this past week.  If you don't have a blog, leave your success story in the comments section.  Hopefully blogger won't eat the post this time!  

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Making Light of Things

With the advent of the 50 dollar light bulb, I have to wonder, what happened to the government I used to know? I suppose the inventive minds that developed million dollar toilets, three thousand dollar screws and funded studies to investigate cow flatulence were having a seriously off day. Only fifty dollars?

Surely they could have jacked the price up a little.  Fifty bucks?  That's barely more than two tickets to the movies, with popcorn and soda! 

I know! Congress should pass an illumination tax. Then, since everyone is mandated to buy the bulbs and no one wants to work/live in darkness, the money will come pouring in! Sure, we might have waivers for those government approved companies that wouldn’t be able to contribute to our political friends if their profit margins were cut by the purchase of said light bulbs, but everyone else? Everyone else who is evil enough to not only not want to buy 50 dollar light bulbs but also have the audacity not to grease the right palms of the approved politicians; they deserve to have to shell out the extra bucks.

I'm sure the math will work, the same way it does for all those businesses that didn’t get waivers for health care.  But we can run it by the CBO with numbers that will make it look just peachy keen if you like.

Given the shakiness of the recovery, the federal treasury (which wants hard cash as versus CBO fuzzy guestimates), has to presume there will be gamers who go to the black market for 60 watt specials and hoarders who haven’t been exposed on that show by Bravo that hold out against these regulations and thus cut anticipated revenue.

Not to worry, I have a solution: to ensure that 1) no one is left without a means of light, 2) carbon emissions are not increased and 3) consumption taxes are safely and efficiently collected (without the need for audits) to carry on all those necessary successful efficient beloved government programs (like all the necessary audits).

The Match Tax: On every box of matches, there will be a ten dollar tax, sort of like we have on cigarettes. After all, matches make fire and fire makes smoke and smoke is a carcinogen so it makes sense to tax this highly dangerous product for the good of the health of the nation. This tax will be for the protection of the weak, the sick and most especially the children who sometimes I’m told, use these highly flammable (even on fire) objects as part of annual celebrations and festivities where too much fat, sugar and possibly caffeine is not only consumed but willingly distributed by parents who should know better.

To deter people from considering using this method to create heat, light and warmth given the potential of its possible carbon footprint, all federally approved boxes of matches will come sealed in a bag soaked with water for your own protection.  But you can use them as needed. (Sort of like the sudafed you can buy in the aisle as versus behind the pharmacist).

All actual working matches will be registered and tracked through the ATF. A background check and training session is required. Necessary subsequent registration fees will be used to purchase carbon offset credits vis-a-vie federally approved vendors.

For those unwilling or unable to purchase working matches, we have a federally approved alternative illumination tax for using the sun. The Sunlight tax will be pro-rated based on income and cover all use for both for private and/or commerical purposes.  As it is unfair that the rich get to enjoy the sun more than those with less,the economically priviledged will also agree to use SP 1040 block to guarantee they remain as pasty, pale and languid in appearance as their non sunbathed economically strapped brethren.

As for any other possible needs for light, currently, there are negotiations between the NLB and lightning bugs of Ameria to see if they would consent to providing illumination for one to two hours a week provided they get sick leave, a dental plan and the opportunity for advancement through free classes at the local state university of their choice.   The phosphorous algea that would provide light to the east and west coast lines are said to be in a bit of a stalemate in their labor deal talks, as no one is quite certain who the leader is, as they keep dying every four seconds.

So what to do about these fifty dollar light bulbs?  Well, according to some, the end of the world comes on May 21st and with it, eternal darkness so it won’t be an issue one way or another after Saturday.
Now I don’t feel nearly so bad about not hording incandescent bulbs or for that matter, eating that Snickers bar.

Monday, May 16, 2011

On Hold

I have been paging Saint Anthony since Friday for the return of two right foot tennis shoes for my two year old son Paul.  Now St. Tony and I go way back. I visited Padua on my 22nd birthday.  We've got an understanding.  On numerous occasions with multiple witnesses, I have solicited his assistance in locating items only to have them quite literally appear in the next second before I can draw breath. 

Lest you think I'm bluffing, the most recent came on Friday when I'd loaded up the car and found that the van would not shift out of park. With the baby beginning to get agitated and no supplies as we'd been out a while and used them up, I could not afford to be stranded.

So, after multiple attempts of turning the wheel, turning the key, turning the key, turning the wheel, and getting no where except more frustrated, I muttered aloud, "Saint Anthony help me find a way to get this car moving."  The car gear immediately released in my hand.  The second after that, my 13 year old found an earring I'd been searching for and given up for lost eight weeks ago.  The kids saw it and commented. "Wow! Go Saint Anthony!" and I seconded it.  I've always tried to point out that you do have to be looking. trying, in there pitching, but I can't deny that this saint in my life has a strong batting average. 

In searching for Paul's shoes, I began a systemic search today and as a result acquired 15 sharpened pencils, two previously thought gone forever DVD's, a USB of my daughter's behind a cabinet, four sippy cups (that had been full of water and now were simply empty and lost), two library books, six cute socks that have clean cute mates sitting in the sock bin, and a shirt I'd been missing.  This isn't a case of providing exaggeration to create comic effect.  The piles of treasures found made me feel as if Saint Anthony was today clearing out his old files or defragging his computer, there were so many "Oh yeah I wondered where that went" type moments.  He'd answered all past pending prayers in one afternoon.
However the shoes remain MIA.  I may have left the poor saint exhausted with my constant pleas.  I could hear St. Anthony's humor back at me, "Your call is very important to us and will be handled in the order it was received."

Still, he's never failed me yet so I guess I'm just on hold. I'll have to lose a few more things to create a queue.

But I've told him I'm easy, I'll gladly trade having two left feet shoes for having one of each even if they don't match. 

P.S.  This morning, walking down to wake up my daughters, I spied the toy train bin.  A mental note, "You should play Thomas the Tank Engine with Paul today." popped into my head.  I pulled the bin out further to remind me later.  There, on top of the bin, a bin I'd gone through at least three times the other day with no luck, was Paul's shoe.    So I will be playing trains this morning.  Thank you Saint Anthony. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Time of My Life

Two weeks ago, my son received what for him at the tender age of seven, is the epitome of joy, a birthday invitation from one of his best friends to one of his favorite places to celebrate.  Every day since has been like a glimpse into life at NASA before a shuttle launch. 

May 2 Breakfast:  Hey Mom!  It's Monday so that means I have 13 more days until my friend's party.  I can't wait.  We should get a present.  I've picked out my outfit.  Will you wrap the present? Can I go shopping today after school to get the present?  I have my own money.

May 3 Breakfast: Mom! We didn't go to the store yesterday. There are only 12 days left and I don't want to pick the wrong thing because I'm rushed.  I located the wrapping paper but we need tape. I'm so excited I can't wait!  But I had to change my outfit for the party because my brother stepped on it and left a shoe print.

May 4 After school in the car:  Can we go to Toys R Us? Borders? Target? How about now? It's getting closer and how many more days?  Oh yeah, I need to shop for Mother's day too.  Did you get tape?

May 5th Bedtime: MOM! MOM! THIS IS AN EMERGENCY! I CAN'T FIND THE INVITATION! What if you forget about the party???? And I still need to go shopping.  Oh. I found duct tape if you need it, it's blue.

May 6th: Yes! We're going shopping.  Get to store.  Mom?  We can't go shopping. I forgot my Toys R Us coupon and my gift certificate.  Refuses to pick out something in a fit of determined frugalness.  Son does not understand the cost to parent of NOT shelling out the ten bucks while on the premises.

May 7th:  Sister's birthday.  Son sighs audibly during cake singing time.  It's still a week away to my friend's party.   Perks up when I present him with clear adhesive tape and wrapping paper that says, "Happy Birthday."

May 8th:  Mom? MOM! Mom!  I think a good mother's day present would be to take me to get my friend's present.  

May 9th, Monday of the party week:  How many hours?  I think I wore my outfit I'd picked out so you'll have to wash it or I have to get another.  Also, I think I used up the tape you gave me on a project yesterday.

May 10th: Mom! Thanks for bringing the coupon and gift certificate.  His older sister takes him into store.  He returns five minutes later with a Sponge Bob book and slightly sad.   "This was the only thing I saw I think he'd like." he explains.  Sister volunteers, "He kept picking out things that cost 30 dollars."

May 11th: Total insanity ensues as a second invitation to the same place the day before the anticipated party is issued.  Only 12 hours if you don't count sleeping.    Only twenty if you do.  Mom! We need a present! And I need TWO outfits because I don't want to wear the same thing to the same place for two different parties. 

May 12th: Breakfast 7:32 a.m.  After consulting with his sister for the math, "Only 9 hours and 28 minutes to my party!"  I wrap Sponge Bob. 
8:17 a.m.  Hey Mom! How many hours and minutes now?
8:55 a.m. How about now?
9:02  a.m.  I'm Really Really Really excited about this party.

Mom:  "Here." I put the timer on for the 8 hours and 28 minutes before I will be willing to get in the car.  He sits worshipfully looking at the timer for a while, watching the minutes tick by. Seized by the fear of being late, he dresses all the way to socks and shoes and a rain coat --it's misting outside, and refuses to take it off even for lunch.

The buzzer goes off. He has my shoes, keys, purse and phone waiting for me, while he's also clutching his present that we got for him on Friday for this classmate.  In the car.  Mom?  This car's clock is two minutes fast so you really have 17 minutes, not 15 to get to my party. There is traffic.  The magic time of 5:00 comes and goes and we still have not made the turn into the parking lot. 

Well, I guess it's okay if I'm one minute late.  Maybe the clocks at the party are two minutes slow and I'll still be on time.  I guess it's okay if we're two mintues..three...four...Mom? I missed the turn.  We arrive.  He rushes in and I don't see him until he comes home with his friend.  "IT WAS GREAT!  AND YOU KNOW WHAT'S THE BEST THING?  Only...18 and a half hours until my next party!

 How did you figure that out?  I asked my friend's dad. 

Today, first thing in the morning.  Hey Mom!  How many hours until the party?

Mental note for me, hide all invitations in the future until the day of.  Maybe the 1/2 hour before when I'm loading the car.

Realty based Bonus:  The second party?  The one that started this countdown? We went to the place for the 2 o'clock shebang. It's next week. We were to RSVP by yesterday.  Well, at least next Sunday, we'll be ready.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Heidi Saxton

As a former special educator, I knew about ADD and ADHD but it helps to have a friend who is an expert on such matters. I'm shouting out her article here because 1) she's a very kind soul 2) a good writer and 3) it's good stuff. --Thanks.
Help, my child has ADHD: 5 tips for parents - Ann Arbor Special Needs Kids Examiner.com


Blogger deleted my post yesterday. GRRRRRRR!  So I intended to leave a comment yesterday and I know there was at least one blog I didn't get to visit.  My apologies.  --Sherry

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Small Success Thursday

Hello! Welcome to everyone visiting from Family & Faith Live!

My name is Sherry and for those who don't know me, I'm a mother of ten and freelance writer in my spare
time.  (Well alright, I write to avoid housework whenever possible.  It's my semi-virtuous method of slumming). 

I've agreed to host Small Successes Thursday. It will be a regular weekly feature of this blog. This is the new spot for anyone grappling with the meaning of life or cleaning of laundry. No promises on my take being the last word on either subject.

To participate, just write up a list of 3 of your recent Small Successes and post it on your blog along with the Small Successes button. I'm working on creating a button for you to access with the appropriate non tech looking user friendly link.

But in the meantime, email me and I will email back the code for the button if you want to use it. 

Also, if you don't have a blog, you can share your Small Successes in the comments. To get us started, I will share my small successes for this week:

1. I mailed a birthday present to my niece who turns two this Friday.

2. My husband and I went on a date to see a movie! Granted, it was Thor and I did make up 50% of the female population but visually, it has some beautiful moments. Good Summer Mental candy.
3. Exercise is returning to my routine.  Today, I went for a little walk with my younger four. It's a start.  Progress, not perfection as they say.

Now it's your turn. I promise to visit each blog that leaves a link and leave a comment. 
Finally, I look forward to seeing how you triumphed this week!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Small Successes Thursday Test

This is a test for a project I've been invited to take on.  If you would care to participate to verify this thing works, play along and use Mr. Linky below after you've listed three successes over at your blog.  I'll click on your link from Mr. Linky below and verify that I have in fact done this correctly.  It will count as my fourth success if it does.  If not, well I still have Wednesday to work out the bugs.

Hello!  Welcome to everyone visiting from Family & Faith Live!  My name is Sherry and I've agreed to host Small Successes Thursday.   This is the new spot for anyone grappling with the meaning of life or cleaning of laundry. No promises on my take being the last word on either subject.

It's important for moms to recognize that all the small successes in our days can add up to one big triumph. So on Thursday of each week, we do exactly that.

To participate, just write up a list of 3 of your recent Small Successes and post it on your blog along with the Small Successes button. I'm working on creating a button for you to access with the appropriate non tech looking user friendly link.  But in the meantime, email me and I will email back the code for the button on my blog.  (I adjusted the button to lead back here on my blog only but can't figure out how to post that info without granting access to rework my blog).  You are not required to use the button, but please do link back to the main post here. Then you can add your blog here using the Mr. Linky form (please link to the individual blog post, not the home page of your blog).

If you don't have a blog, you can share your Small Successes in the comments. To get us started, I will share my small successes for this week:

1. I mailed a birthday card to my niece who turns two this Friday.  Normally I'm notoriously tardy about these sorts of things so this is progress.

2. The quest for order in the home continues undeterred by my brood's capacity for chaos. This week we cleaned out two bins of junk.

3. I got a haircut without engaging in martyr type practicality where I wouldn't go until some one else needed it more.

Now it's your turn. Please tell us all about the ways you got it right this week!  Mr. Fred and It Works! are obviously me.

The Whisper of God

If this season teaches us anything, it is that our eyes ache for beauty. In Maryland, spring is a feast of flowers and blooming trees.  I'm always shocked at the constant loveliness of this month, with tulips and cherry blossoms and dogwood, forsythia and azaleas. It's hard to feel anything but awe when surrounded by such lavish loveliness.

Then I got a phone call from a friend.  In my eyes, this woman is the equivalent of spring any day of the year. Her light brave spirit and easy laugh are contagious. Today however, she called to tell about her cousin's child, a four month old facing a possible tracheotomy on Friday and a lifetime of being paralyzed from the neck down. Facing the foot of the cross on a daily basis with her own daughter's chronic and potentially lethal condition that requires daily monitoring and nightly vigils, my friend knew there was only one source of comfort, one source of strength and healing. So she was asking people to pray.

My friend is one of those people who pours everything out.  She also has a wicked sense of humor that keeps anyone from feeling crushed by sorrow. When faced with my own son's pending open heart surgery, she came to the hospital bearing hot chocolate.  She'd not seen Paul before.  Peering down at him in his isolet with the IV and the feeding tube up his nose, she quipped, "Wow! He's Down Syndrome hot!"  I had to clean up my hot cocoa.

Sure enough, she told her cousin, "You can do this.  I know you can do this." Her cousin asked why my friend knew. "Because you're not lazier than me." and the blessed laughter washed over the conversation for a moment.

I must learn never to drink diet coke when she calls, it's hard on my nasal passages.  She remains a willing pitcher pouring out God's love through the grace of good humor.

As we talked, she told me the story of how she'd quasi-adopted a child in her apartment complex by providing a place after school for a meal, homework help and comfort while the mother worked.  It was the type of constant but seemingly random kindness that mostly goes unreported on the news and Internet. It isn't random, it's wilful cooperation with God's grace.

The whispers of God were revealed in these moments of kindness, of beauty, of prayer, of diligence and they go on every day in countless homes, in countless hearts.  These whispers are greater than the noise and bluster and violence and wrath that pours forth on a daily basis from the news whatever the source.  God waits to be discovered in all those places where the ordinariness of love is the norm.  God is in the details of being willing to submit to the rigors of this world when quitting or running away or pulling back would be seemingly easier. And the world practically sings with this sort of strong truth (especially in Spring), just as surely as flowers sprouted in between the rocks despite the presence of the rocks. 

So please pray for my friend's cousin and her family, they need to feel the presence of God.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Happy Mother's Day Week!

To a young daughter, Mom is endlessly glamorous. To a teen daughter, I know I'm something of an albatross, but to a daughter who is a mother, Mom is a safe phone a friend life line when you don't know the answer to the question. And man am I glad I don't have to adhere to Regis' limits.

Everything I learned about being a mom, came from being a daughter. 

On Sunday when my nine year old brought me a picture she'd drawn of a life size barbie in a red sequined dress, I flashed back to my own six year old self and the brunette Barbie with a sparkly gray dress I'd received for a present.  I thought she looked beautiful.  I thought she looked like Mom.  I knew my daughter was saying the same thing even if I'm not blond.

My favorite dress in fourth grade was a red pokadot ensemble that I thought matched my mother's dress.  I felt important wearing it when I did, because I looked like her.  Dad may have showered us with theological and literary treasures like C.S. Lewis and Dickens and Chesterton and Tolkein; Mom made us sit down and actually read. 

Mom couldn't cure or kiss away all the pains of growing up, but she was with me as I stumbled through them.  She couldn't explain why someone had written cruel words the day we got out for Christmas, but she could cheer me with music and going out to get a few decorations for the tree and a bit of ice cream. She taught that while words hurt, they didn't need to be relived and relived and relived.  Mom always put a brave face on things and I learned to do the same.

When the house flooded, she didn't panic.  The repairs from that disaster meant six months of bare floors and casseroles.  When we finally sat down to a family dinner in the dining room, the table collapsed just after grace.  Mom may have cried but I remember her laughter.  It was an insane turn of events. And when our house flooded the second time, I still don't remember her despairing even as all that hard work was washed away yet again.  The house may have been sinkable, and the land of Beaumont below sea level, but to me, Mom's optimism seemed boundlessly buoyant. 

She also has been endlessly hospitable.  Whenever her family or Dad's needed help, she opened our house.  So we grew up with uncles and cousins and grandmother.  When people needed help, my observations were, she always said "yes." To me, her whole life was like grace before meals, blessed are we who are about to receive.  It could be food, it could be relatives, but we were always about to receive something and no matter what it was, "Blessed were we."

Mom has a memory that reveals she took everything in, to this day, she never forgets a name or a story about a family and always seems to know everyone.  At weddings, funerals or family vacations, having Mom at your side was the equivalent of having a CIA operative briefing on every guest, complete with back story.  She simply remembered each person in detail as if they were the only person.  She still does.  Alas, I did not receive her gift in my DNA mix, as I still play "Name that person" with people who I know, have known me for years, and some of those folks are my children. 

Mom still keeps me on my toes, reminding me to schedule that appointment with the dentist, to spend a bit of money on myself every once in a while, to watch what I eat and make sure the kids do some of the things that when you have a big family, you sometimes get jaded about doing and forget.  She also calls when she spots a typo or a spelling error, so she's my defacto editor.   She's also the one that taught me my default answer for everything, "Did you pray about it?"  because that's what she'd say and that's what she does and it always works. Ultimately, flowers and a card and a day aren't enough, I'd need at least a lifetime to say thank you and that's just for putting up with me as a mopey sad teenager who sat in her room and listened to mopey sad songs.

So Happy Mother's Day Week! Enjoy an extra six days on me.  Now I have to go and call my mom.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Try Dyed For Mother's Day

It began with a Mother's Day card. 

My seven year old son had created a booklet at school.  Each page had a fill in the blank.  My mom likes to...My mom doesn't like to...with the answers having been supplied by each individual first grader.  The impressions a child has of their parents is often widely at odds with reality or at least the impression I'm trying to give in this world. 

For instance, according to John, my favorite food is crabs.  This despite the fact that I obsess over chocolate and diet coke daily and haven't eaten any side walkers in about a year.  My only explantion was a conversation I had two weeks ago with my two oldest daughters about how much fun it was to make gumbo growing up. They were recalling their last trip to the beach where they caught a mess of blue crabs and did the same with my folks. 

Apparently my favorite vacation spot is Texas but the place I loathe is Pennsylvania.*  Again, I could piece together the reasoning of my son; he knows I love to visit my family and the beach on the gulf coast.  He also knows family lore. Years back before he was even born, we had a bad experience once in Amish country at one of those theme hotels designed to be fun for kids, a hotel composed entirely of train cars.   We tried to be good sports but the place was so dusty and our bed so awful, my husband made an emergency trip to Walmart to purchase new sheets and comforters so we could sleep. He stayed up all night in the recliner watching March madness and we didn't stay the second of the mandatory two night reservation. To this date, while we know there are plenty of fun things to do in our neighboring state, we remain gun shy about an overnight stay; with the money quote being, "This would be pretty if it weren't Pennsylvania."  The Hotel which shall not be named, still evokes shivers at the memory and a case of the imaginary itchies. 

But the page that drew the most response was this:  My mom's hair color is.....What is this, a commercial for L'Oreal?  My son had written grey.   He wrote grey.  My hair is black.  Well alright, it's black with grey highlights and an skunk stripe in the front.  I looked in the mirror.  The standard pony tail masked how grey I'd become, bundling all the brown and black.The skunk stripe had encroached out of it's acceptable territory and I now had a large swath that his seven year old eyes had spotted correctly.  I couldn't be grey.  The little bit of vanity left in this mother of ten body railed against the idea of having my son think I had grey hair.  Off to the hairdresser I went.

I have discovered the limits of my vanity.  Two hours.  It takes three hours to get one's hair colored. After 120 minutes, I was done and tired of reading magazines that told me how to lose weight, budget, organize, think like a man, raise perfect sons, grill, improve my insurance I.Q. and where to eat in Bangladesh.  I'd said a rosary.  I'd written a list of things to do for the next week. I'd fretted about not being home and wondered if they'd started dinner.  I'd wished I'd gone shopping for sneakers instead or gone for a walk.  I'd considered getting into an email fight with the editor of a travel magazine for a snide comments about Houston not having much beyond steak until recently.  Clearly they didn't know Houston worth a darn.  Then  I realized, she'd missed out on some good mexican tamales and good seafood and fantsized briefly about Pappadeaux's soft shell crabs.. then I thought oh well, more for me.  Whoa! Maybe my son knew more about me than I'd thought.  

Finally sprung from the beautician's chair, I drove home and showed off my newly not grey hair.  He didn't really notice.  I looked at my mother's day car again.  The page after the hair said, "My eyes are....green," only they're not. 

Next week, I'm going to the eye doctor. My oldest son told me to get contacts if I need correction, so maybe when I go to the visit, I'll fix it so the other son's observations are more accurate. 

*I like Pennsylvania.  We've taken trips and have friends in Pennsylvania. I'm just never going to a theme hotel that has a mandatory two night stay again unless the family needs new bedding and even then, I think I'll just buy the sheets and skip the possible nightmare vacation spot.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Friday, May 6, 2011

Quick Takes Friday

1.  Happy Mother's Day

I must call my mom sometimes two and three times a day.  Just because she's in Texas doesn't mean I don't want her imput when I'm on the mental proverbial ledge because kid one after ice cream and going to the park said something awful to kid two in the car who began crying which woke up the baby and made that ten mile distance the longest drive in the world; I also call her when they show up at the beginning of an all school mass at the back where I am with the youngest four and stay to assist with the littles so I can actually recall something of both the Gospel and the homily and I feel broken with joy from blessings.  These sort of things often and oddly enough happen usually on the same day.

Basically, I call because she's my first best friend.  

2.  What I'm Reading

It always feels good to me to have a stack to read. I go through jags where I read the way I eat chocolate, and then I go through periods where opening a book "feels" like a chore.  Right now, it is the later, but I've decided it must be done.  Ergo, The Disorganized Child and The Red Tent are sitting at my bed. We'll see if I feel like Fiction or Non Fiction tonight.  

3.  What I'm Praying

The daily rosary, but I'm behind by a decade of yesterday's.   Prayer too, sometimes is breathlessly easy.  Sometimes, it is very difficult to get through this discipline, but it's always better if I do.   It's like exercise, I'm always shocked how much better I feel if it gets done.  You'ld think by now, I'd know to just do it.

4.  What's Going On

We have a ninja night time freeze tag party coming up with up to 24  fourteen/fifteen year old girls.  Should we discover that it is raining and the outside is not available, pizza and either Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Kung Fu Panda, Spirited Away or some other Ninja but Not Really movie will be shown.  My 18 year old has decided he's going to be busy that night...anywhere else but here.

5.  Faith Report

Followers of this blog know we started treating her for ADD with medication.  So far, things are going pretty well. She made 100 on a science test --without the extensive grilling by an older sibling or me.  This is huge progress.  The material we always knew was going into her creative happy sparkly brain is being accessed.   Yeah! Yeah! and Yeah Again!  I am keeping a daily Faith log for when we go back to the doctors in a month of any changes good and bad that might indicate a need for tweaking this process.

6.  Tomatoes Tomatoes Tomatoes

My bathroom is returning to normal.  There are still 16 or so plants surrounding the tub, but the beans have been planted, as have the carrots and the first six tomatoes.  Last year we didn't get to plant much because of time constraints on my husband with work and the fact that I don't garden well, but this year, it looks good.

7.  Six impossible things before Breakfast

As a mental exercise, I came up with six things that I hope happen sometime in the next few years but would be impossible before breakfast.  It's fun for coming up with goals, and for exercising the brain in imagination.  Writing always takes me to visit my brain which often is thinking of things but not telling me. 

So here are my six seven impossible possibles before breakfast:

1) finish my book
2) start writing another book --I've outlined in my head and just have to do it.
3) go to Greece and put my feet in the Adriatic, and take a boat from there to the island of Rhodes.
4) get in shape by going for walks with my three middle children.
5) Get my Ph.D. maybe in assessment of learning disabilities, as I see that that is a critical area where we do not have enough people who a) are versed with assessment tools and b) able to use them in the educational setting in a way that is affordable to ordinary folks.  
6) See a whale in the wild.
7) Raise all ten to be happy, healthy, holy and educated.

These goals are mostly only impossible before breakfast today.   

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sticky Situation

Paul had to go to the audiologist today.  The office is clean, nice, has a kid area and an aquarium full of tropical fish.  The doctor has a beautiful plaque telling the story of how he loved the fish at the ear nose and throat doctor he saw as a child, and that that is why he keeps tropical fish in his office waiting area. 

We got to know the fish pretty well waiting forty five minutes to be seen.  Naturally the five and four year old both announced they needed to go to the bathroom right when the Dr. walked into the room.  The bathroom was an entertaining diversion because we needed to pack up and leave the office with a key to get to the lavatory.  There were at least three cool discoveries in the bathroom: the auto door, the auto flush feature and the sensor driven soap and water dispensers.  Twenty minutes later, we get to the appointment, as we now had to wait for him to finish with the next person while we were discovering 21st century wash rooms.

Aside from that, the kids were reasonably well behaved given the fact that they were in a business building and it was the afternoon.  Apparently the staff thought so too, and as such was prepared to hand out rewards. While I was scheduling the next appointment, the nurse offered each of my not at school set a sticker. 

I hate stickers.  I hate them because they always wind up on the one thing, the one thing that I can't scrape it off of, and thus have a gummy residue or a pooh bear/princess/hot wheel/batman/transformer in a place that I'd rather not. 

Those sticky pictures have taken down the back window of a brand new SUV, my dining room table, the screen of our old television, a carseat and my old laptop.  They've ruined purses I've bought for myself on more than one occasion.  Stickers have resulted in an irritated phone call from my pediatrician because one of my children decorated the wall and they couldn't get it off.

Then there are the walls and the doors of bedrooms, festooned with various glittery emblems of seasonal holidays.  One bedroom entrance is completely 4th of July. As any parent whose encountered these objects knows, water, elbow grease, and a butter knife don't always work.  Somehow four year olds can get that vacuum seal when they put their favorite Disney character upside down on the one nice piece of furniture or blank wall available for miles.  My kids specialize in accessorizing right before family is coming to town.

But I digress.  

Today, I learned a new reason for hating stickers.   While receptionists understand saying "No" to a lollipop, no one understands being a scrooge about stickers.  If I stick to my guns, I get looks like someone should slap a post-it on my back saying, "MEANEST MOM IN THE UNIVERSE!  DOESN'T LET HER KIDS HAVE STICKERS! FEEL SORRY FOR THESE CHILDREN AND FEEL FREE TO BOO AT HER IF YOU WANT!!!"

Sure enough, as I was making our co-pay, my daughter took the Rapunzel off the protective backing and smacked it on the beautiful clear aquarium before I could even get out the word "Don't."  I peeled it off but not without a two-fold cost.  My daughter was upset at me for disrupting her attempt to beautify the world for the fish, and the sticker hadn't wanted to be removed so there was that white fuzzy half paper/gum remains in the form of a perfect square.

Now I had a problem.  I can 1) skulk out leaving the square  2) try to peel it off myself or 3) ask for help to address the issue head on.  I opted to spend the next five minutes scraping with my thumb nail without giving notice to the staff. It was a messy business and while there were some feltish spots here and there, the glass was no longer marred by a big square, just fingerprints which I hope can't be traced. . 

I had to tell them not to stick them to the elevator.  Not to the elevator doors.  Not to the cool auto clear glass doors that led outside, not to the stucko walls of the building, not to the parking sign and NOT TO MY CAR.  One daughter saw this edict as a dare.  " I swear she was thinking...."I must find a place to put my sticker that Mom has not technically forbiden but is out of bounds anyway."

"Can I put it on the sidewalk?" she asked.  "No." 
"On our driveway?" "NO." 
"What can I put it on?" 
"Paper or yourself." I explained as I buckled people into their carseats. 

She slapped it on a book. Her sister began sobbing immediately.  She had put her sticker on her shirt.  Having previously been afixed to the aquarium, it had lost its stickerieness.  I thought that was the reason for her tears.  I was mistaken.

"That's my book." She sobbed.

I looked at the book.  It was technically paper.  She'd followed my rules.  However, the sticker could not be removed without ripping the book and the sticker was in the book of the other sister, and as such, it was in verboten territory.  We'd just have to cope with Rapunzel in the middle of "I LOVE YOU THIS MUCH."  It could go next to the "Good Night Moon" that still has 2.56 cents worth of postage on it from when my first daughter pretended to pay the bills.

I got home and opened the mail.  It included one of those Free Gifts of mailing labels.  I was going to toss it away as I don't go by Margaret, but my daughter came in and saw them while I was sorting the bills and junk piles.
"If you're going to throw them away, can I have them?" She asked innocently. Visualizing the formal version of my name plastered on the piano, the guest bathroom wallpaper and the kitchen cabinets if I say yes, I do what any parent in my situation would do.  I lie.  "No, these are my stickers.  I'm going to use them and have fun with them." 

Now.  Where to put these....


My two year old woke up on the wrong side of bed yesterday.  He woke up ravenous and angry about that physical fact.  He slumped at the top of the stairs and cried until his brother picked him up and carried him down.  Once in the kitchen, he grabbed onto the high chair and sobbed plaintively until strapped in. 

Given his state, I opted to stay home with the littles and go to mass at five and immediately began fixing his breakfast. His dad left in a flurry of activity with six of the kids.  Meanwhile, Paul was still screaming with hunger. Quickly as possible, I toasted and buttered an english muffin, poured his soy milk in a sippy cup and placed it before him.  He immediately quieted down and I began to make his next older sister's breakfast. 

But then I noticed.  Paul wasn't eating.  He was staring at me.  He had his hands together and shook them at me.  "Oh!"  he said.

Sudden dawn in Mom's head.  "Blessing.  He wants Grace before meals."
"Blessed Our Lord for these thy gifts which we are about to receive through thy bounty, through Christ Our Lord. Amen."  He nodded his head, unfolded his hands and began eating.

Habbit?  Sure but also something deeper.  He had been starving.  He had been uncharacteristically angry and crying and FOOD was what he wanted more than anything else.  Yet this little two year old with developmental delays was willing to deny himself those few moments to pray. 

I finished making my daughter's and my own breakfast.  We sat down to eat with him.  He put his hands together again to make sure we got it. 

I got it. 


Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Klondike Economy

My kids love ice cream and so when it is on sale at the store, I swoop in to get extras as kid currency.  Then, I wait for the right moment to set things in motion.

It's Saturday afternoon.  Lunch is finished but the dishes have been left for the cleaning fairy to address.  Only there's a problem. Mom is also wanting to enjoy the weekend.  She goes to the freezer and pulls out some ice creamy goodness and begins to eat her treat all by herself at the table. 

Sweets are like a dog whistle is to pooches.  The kids come at the first silent sound of a bite.  "Hey Mom! That looks good.  Can I have some?"  my teen asks as she comes in the room.  
"Would you do the dishes first?" I ask innocently.  

"Thanks." I say as I move on to my next victim....I mean to the living room to consider the laundry.  There I find three children watching a movie they've seen hundreds of times.  I deliberately take a larger than normal bite to be sure there is a crackle of the chocolate skin being fractured.

"ICE CREAM?!!!"  "Who has ice cream?"  "MOM! YOU HAVE ICE CREAM!"  followed by "I WANT SOME!" In chorus.  I smile, take another daintier bite and give an eye glance at the twelve stationed laundry baskets and the huge pile of clothing on the couch heretofore ignored. 

"What would you do...." I sing. 

"But that will take forever!" one complains. 
"It's three loads. There are three people..."
Two of them are already on it.  I seize the higher ground. "If they do it and you don't.  They'll get the treat and you won't." He's already moving. 

I'm thinking VICTORY!  My husband comes in to the room and sees all the worker bees.  "What's going on?"
"Mom said we could have ice cream if we folded the clothes."  My daughter volunteers. 

He goes to find the other children of age to be of assistance.  I'm thinking, "Klondikes.  Is there nothing you cannot do?"  Sure enough, three of the younger children happily march out with their dad to pick up trash and weed the garden for the promise of chocolate and icecream without a stick.  But that still leaves one older child unaccounted for.  

The final daughter unseduced by the lure of frozen dairy yumminess comes by.  "If you want ice cream, you have to do a chore." one of her brothers volunteers.  "No thanks." she says and walks towards the computer room. 

Suddenly a new thought has taken hold.  We could opt out.  We were happy before the mention of ice cream.  Now we're working and don't yet have ice cream and she's happy and isn't eating ice cream.  If we work and even get the ice cream, she'll still not have done work.  She doesn't care that she isn't getting ice cream because she doesn't LIKE this ice cream.  That's not fair!  The workers of the world who hadn't finished their jobs unite to stop working.  I'm losing momentum but not without options. 

"No screens until the task is done." I explain.  Then to the sole hold out I give the same ultimatum plus a specific chore.  I hand her the equipment to clean the bathrooms. 

"I hate that job." she whines.  I turn off the computers.  She gets to work.  The strikers return to their task. 
Five minutes later she pipes up, "But if I do it, can I have some ice cream too?"

Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!