Friday, October 29, 2010

Trick or Cape

Pumpkins carved... check.  Pumpkin seeds roasted... check.  Caramel apples eaten... check.  "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" watched... check.  Feeling pretty good about myself - makin' memories with the kids... ahhh, yes... it's good to be a mom.
Bump, bumpity-bump, bump, bump.  This is the sound I hear coming down the stairs exactly 45 minutes after my son was put into his bed and supposedly sleeping.

Mom, we have a situation!

What's that?

Remember when you cleaned out my room?

Yes?  (Hard to forget because of the ongoing need for this activity)

I think you gave away my Darth Vader mask.  I can't find it anywhere!

No, no, no - I just put it further into your closet because you said it was freaking you out at night, remember?

Yeah, Mom, but it's not there.  The Halloween party is tomorrow... what am I going to do?
Well, let me check... here it is, Honey... no worries.  It's already for tomorrow.  You can go to bed now and sleep peacefully knowing you are all ready.

What about the cape, Mom?


Yes, you said you were going to sew me a new cape because Dad threw out last year's cape... remember?

Of course... yes... THAT cape.  Just go to bed and you can try it on in the morning.
So during the second showing of Bravo's Housewives of Beverly Hills at 11 pm, I am sewing a cape.  Mind you, I don't sew.  I have a black sheet and white thread, a needle, and that's it.  I am doing my best and will triumph over my lack of sewing skills.

At 12 am, I am just finishing up when I hear another clumsy set of bumps rolling down the stairs.


Why are you still awake?

I'm really sorry... but I think we have a situation.

Another one?

Just kidding.

Why are you up?

I just wanted to see how the cape was coming!

Try it on quick and then up to bed with you!

We throw the ramshackle sheet cape onto his shoulders and immediately he is transformed into a Dracula, Darth Vader Ninja.

Mom!  This is SO cool, I love it!!  I can't wait to wear it - thank you Mama!!!!

You're welcome, go to bed, I love you.

It is now 9:00 am.  We are at school (which is 25 minutes away from our home) in the drop-off line.  Van doors are opening to let children out.



Where's my cape??

Didn't you put it in your school bag?

I don't have it ...  I'm really sorry mom... can you get it...? Please?

Cape seamstress, no.  Enabling mom who seems to love the inside of her van, yes.  After visualizing the complete delight in his eyes after slipping on that sad excuse for a cape and swooshing around the house like a super hero in the wee hours of the morning... how could I deny him?  There's only so long in a child's life when a cape is magical... and when a mom has stayed up all night making sure that magic happens.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Oh, Wind - How I Love Thee

Have you ever told your kids that everything will be all right and that they shouldn't be scared, but you yourself are completely freaked out and wished someone was there to comfort you??  So here's the deal:  The Minneapolis area is and was experiencing category 3 hurricane force winds right now and last night - for real.  As the windows were rattling, fan vents were slapping open and shut, and an occasional pumpkin from the front entrance kept rolling and bumping into the front door, I was putting my kids to bed last night.  Both were a bit wound up and scared of the wind... I was too, but I calmly tucked them into their beds (one slept on the floor of the other one's room) and told them not to worry.   I would be right here and I would protect them.
As soon as their lights were out, I quickly turned tail and scrambled into my own room into the safety of my bed and turned on the weather channel.  The verdict: it's windy.  It will continue into the next day until the evening.  Great.  Soon, I heard slumbering snores from down the hallway.  Good, they're asleep.  I think.  I was all alone.  Just me and the wind... and ten hours of infomercials because I was too afraid to go to sleep.  I dozed in and out of the Snuggy Macarena, the Food Dehydrator, and Shoes Under.  My half dreams were filled with scenes of the guy who plays the role of "Mayhem" for an insurance company commercial and that crazy ding-a-ling woman who's always giving obvious advice to idiots on a different insurance commercial.  Whoosh, bang, roar... whoosh, bang, roar... and so the night continued.
Finally, the morning came... phew.  My nine year old rushed into my room already dressed and prepared for school - he wanted to know if he could go outside and play...?  Sure, if you consider playing in a vortex a good time...great idea.  So he ran downstairs, threw on his winter clothes, and he was out the back door in 2 minutes flat.  Me?  I was still peeking through my wooden blinds taking stock of all the presumed damage I was hearing all night.  This is what I heard next:
"MOM!!  We're missing a pipe!"
"You know that white thing that goes down the side and sticks out of the house a long ways?"
"That!  It's gone!  I can't find it anywhere!  Do we need it?"
"I would think so... let me see."
On further inspection, I can see that indeed our downspout has gone missing.  And now it's beginning to rain... cats and dogs... super.
"I'll go find it, Mom!  I'm taking Maya with me... she might be able to help!" (The dutiful six year old manned up and followed without question.)
Now, I am standing in the doorway to the garage, the wind is still whipping around at gale force speeds, and it appears as though I have let my nine year old take over the reins - and now he is comforting me
Turns out, the downspout had jumped a fence and taken up residence under our neighbor's deck. 
"Mom, I will just put it in the garage and maybe I can figure out a way to put it back on after school!"  Either I have raised very self-sufficient children, or I'm a big, fat, frady cat and they know it - guess I'm not fooling anyone with my calm delivery of the "I will protect you" speech. 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Beauty Secrets

   Right now I am waiting for my six year old to finish her shower.  The water has long since stopped running.  I can hear feet doing a little jig and I am sure I am hearing a tune being hummed.  Oh... there it is, I just heard the drawer.  It's for sure. The jig, the tune, and the drawer can only mean one thing:  there will be lip gloss and there is a good chance that sparkle glitter hairspray will be in full use.  You see, my daughter has enjoyed this new found independence of taking her own shower... and the continued process that follows.  The best part is that she doesn't think I am noticing.  She is very careful and oh so subtle with her application of gloss and spray.  She will have also taken the time to apply detangler spray to her soaking wet hair because she loves the scent of "Shiny Apple."  As long as the whole routine doesn't result in the taking of another shower, we're all okay.
   When I was at this age, I too would search for appropriate beauty products after the bath, but while the door was still shut.  I might even wait to drain the tub so as not to be found out right away.  I would climb on to the counter and very quietly open the cupboard door and begin my hunt for beauty treasures.  Here's the thing though: there was no Shiny Apple detangler spray, perfect pink lip gloss or glitter sparkle spritz in 1976.  All I could usually dig up was half a bottle of Oil of Olay Beauty Fluid (why would they use the word "fluid?" That sounds kind of ... clinical), Cocoa Butter - that we were allowed to use to remove our Halloween make-up, an eyelash curler that as far as I could tell was an instrument of torture, and a fingernail buffer - whatever that was.  There was an assortment of lotions and fingernail polishes, but in order to maintain stealth, it was important not to get too involved with heavily scented products.  My favorite find was the Coty powder puff that was the scent of "date night."  My Mom must have used this alongside her Chanel No. 5 because that's what it smelled like - and that's what I wanted to smell like.
   So after an extended bath time, I would emerge from the hallway bathroom with my hair all slicked back Fonzie style, wearing my quilted bath robe, and emitting a mixture of Mr. Bubble and Chanel No. 5 - just in time for Hee-Haw and the Lawrence Welk Show.  I'm sure no one ever noticed... just like I'm so not smelling my expensive conditioner and Lancome lotion right now as my freshly bathed little friend stands next to me. 
   Besides, a lady never reveals her beauty secrets.

Friday, October 22, 2010

I wish so badly this had happened to's too good of a story not to share. I had lunch with a friend yesterday who told me about a rather painful encounter she had with the zipper on her sweatshirt.  As she was pulling it over her head, some how the zipper "handle" got stuck in her nose... and actually gave her a bloody nose.  We had a good laugh and both agreed that it sounded like something that usually happens to me.  You know, weird acts of randomness that are either completely embarrassing or somewhat painful.  As usual, this brought a rather poignant event from my past right up to the front.  
The Christmas Tree Story.

When I was in college, part of my teaching practicum was to student teach in a preschool.  I loved every minute of it - fanciful far off stories about how the tooth fairy came to be, lots of unsolicited hugs, unconditional admiration, speech impediments that made each story just that more entertaining, and of course... field trips.

The class I taught was made up of three year olds only - so we didn't get to go on a lot of "long" field trips, but the one we made several times was just to the other side of the church basement where the church hosted an Adult Day Care Center.  This program consisted of helping mentally challenged adults enjoy some time outside of their primary residence and give their care-takers a rest.  The preschool and the Adult Day Care Center partnered up on a number of occasions to do crafts or sing songs, etc.  It was a very lovely partnership and was quite rewarding to all who were involved.

Holiday time was drawing closer and the preschool kids were all set for a day of crafts with their Adult Buddies.  At exactly 10:00 am, I  proudly marched my line of three year olds down the church hallway, through the Fellowship Hall, and straight to the Activity Room.  They were quiet and obedient, and for some reason I thought this had everything to do with me, so I was feeling full of pride and confidence in my new found leadership.  The Activity Room was filled with Christmas decorations complete with a beautifully adorned Christmas tree. The adults had been assisted to their tables with their materials and were ready to start the project.  I would love to tell you what the project was, but for reasons you will understand in a moment, I have no memory of what our charge was that day.

Trying to look and feel important, I was dutifully tucking each and every little three year old into their designated spot and waiting for our next directions.  This is when the story becomes a little sketchy.  As I was pushing a child up closer to the table, I stepped back and somehow, my heel stuck on the shiny tile which then began as a just little trip, but led to an unfortunate series of lurches and hand flailing of trying to steady myself on - yes - the Christmas tree that was directly behind me.  As we all know, decorative trees are not meant to "catch" anyone - let alone a college age student decked out in a full dress complete with tights and a pair of Mary Janes.  In addition to this, a card table was set up just to the right of the Christmas tree and happened to be laid out with all the crafts the adults had painstakingly made in probably a year's time.  So as I was trying to pull myself as gracefully as possible out of the Christmas tree, I quickly grabbed the side of the card table... which... as you can probably guess was in no position to steady me either.  
The would-be Christmas present crafts each of the adults had presumably made for their hard-working family members, were now flying through the air and crashing down one by one on to that before mentioned shiny tile.

As quickly as possible, I tried to pick myself up, straighten out my dress and survey the damage.  My fair skin is reddened easily with embarrassment, so I'm sure I looked like a frantic tomato head as I was trying to save and restore each ceramic ornament or origami star.  When I finally surfaced from the rescue mission,  I was greeted with an eerily quiet room full of wide open eyes and gaping mouths.  I haven't done a lot of stand-up comedy in my life, but I am here to tell you - one of the toughest audiences you'll ever meet after performing tremendous feats of comedy - is that which is made up of three-year-olds and extremely confused adults.

The saddest part of the story is that the other teachers I was working with, missed the whole thing.  They all heard a noise and wondered what all the ruckus was, but didn't see any of it.  This was only a month into my practicum, so I didn't know them well - and every time I tried to tell the story, I couldn't stop laughing.  I think they just felt sorry for me.  Little did they know, that I come from a long line of trippers - this wasn't the first time I'd broken up the party with a fall - but it was certainly the most memorable. 

So there it is.  Happy Friday!

Monday, October 18, 2010

What's Luck Got To Do With It?

I've been very lucky.  All my life.  Lucky to have a family that thinks my stories are funny.  Lucky to have found the right husband.  Lucky to have kids that I love and they love me back.  Lucky to have amazing friends.  Lucky to be alive.  I, of course, attribute this "luck" to rich blessings, a strong faith in God, opportunities and love.  But what about all of those lucky charms I once clung to?

I once had a rabbit's foot on a key chain that I ordered from a Scholastic Book order in 3rd grade.  I lost that down a grate at my Grandparent's house while gazing at its luckiness.

Another time I thought that luck would be on my side if I skip jumped over the step that had all the paint worn off it every time I journeyed down into the depths of our dark, murky basement.  I'm pretty sure that's the step I hit with my chin when I tripped up the stairs while carrying a bucket of ice cream and a pound of frozen hamburger.

Then came the pet rock.  I kept it in my winter jacket pocket.  My mom washed the jacket and dried it.  Of course the rock came sailing out of my pocket the minute the dryer made its first revolution.  Little did I know that the little black line I thought was a smile, was more like a splash of tar.  The pet rock left bits of its "smile" - not so much on my jacket, but on the rest of the laundry.  I denied that I'd ever seen such a rock.

So when my nine-year-old asked me what would be a good luck charm he could carry with him during math tests,  I suggested that it be something he could part with if it indeed found another home accidentally - and it should be free of tar.  He came up with an idea.  He thought I should make a secret code that just he and I know, and then I should write him a lucky note using the code he could stick in his pocket... hmmm.  Again, lucky to have a kid who's a lot smarter than me.  I'm guessing it's a good thing that none of my good luck charms stuck around.  See?  Lucky again.

What's A Girl To Do?

I'm all for fall - believe me - it's my favorite season.  However, there comes a time in the year when I'm just tired of being hot.  I don't have the right clothes for this warm October.  I certainly am not asking for an early (or any) Minnesota winter, but I'm tired of putting on capris and then wondering how awful it would look to wear socks.   What about my quilted tweener jacket with shorts?  Is that okay?  How about a short sleeve sweater with pants? So I put on jeans or khaki capris and a long sleeve t-shirt... everyday.  That's what makes a woman feel really pretty and special - it's all the rage in Milan.
And then there's the "encroachment issue."  This is when you share a not-so-walk-in-closet with your husband and you have 6 seasons of clothing smashed into shelves that are designed for only 1.5 seasons because one day it's 80 degrees and the next morning it's 35 degrees.  So it isn't enough that I'm hot, I can't find the right clothes, and I'm really tired of stewing over what will make me the right temperature - now I am told that my cr*p is "encroaching" into his area because my piles of clothing are smashing down his hats.  When does he wear hats?  Oh, yes, the college era ball cap with a sweat ring - would hate to damage that one.
Socks or no socks.  Scarf or no scarf.  Capris with sweaters.  Wool pants with a cami?  All this "aggravation" just to go to the grocery store.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Random Conversation...

Mom... that's so not fair.


Everyone I know gets to watch Cartoon Network!


Yes!  And they all get to watch Star Wars cartoons too!


Yes! And they get to play whatever they want on the computer.  They don't have a code like we do - they just get to play whatever whenever.


So can I please watch those shows and play computer battle games?

Well, since you put it that way... no.


Listen, I know you don't understand this right now, but you will when you are a Dad someday.  There are just much better ways to spend your time.  And you are so much more creative when you don't spend a bunch of time watching shows.  Trust me.

When I'm a Dad???!!  Mom, I'm only nine! Who's even a Dad when they're nine? 

No one.  You will have to wait until you are Daddy's age.

He's like fifty or something - that will be forever!

How old do you think I am?

Mom, why are we even talkin' about this?  You know how old you are.  You're like twenty or something like that.

Go watch Cartoon Network, Son.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Horse or the Owl?

You know you've made a dire parenting mistake when you are at the movie theatre and when a scary image flashes across the screen, you have to cover your child's eyes - and then she doubles up by planting both of her hands over your hand - so she is sure not to experience any of the scariness.  Where's the Apple Dumpling Gang when you need 'em?

Mama should have done a little more research before taking her six year old to "Legend of the Guardians."  It's not a gentle little movie about woodland creatures.  Yes, I know it was not billed that way - but those cute little softy owls - I was sure it would be fine.  After experiencing the first fifteen minutes of snarling spookiness complete with glowing red-eyed attack rat, Maya whispers to me, "Mom, I don't think this movie is for my age of kids.  Kids my age like happy stuff."  I stand corrected and embarrassed.  We scurry out of the theatre in the dark and slip into Secretariat just down the hall.

I sit down, missing the first twenty-five minutes, and in three seconds, I am crying.  Someone has died, I don't even know who at this point, but I am moved to tears.  Maya once again looks up at me and whispers, "Mom... did you even know him?  Or are you sad that we left the scary owl movie?  Really, Mom, I think this is the better choice for us."  She is right.  Scary, snarling, drooly owls vs. proud, faster than lightning horse clinching the Triple Crown.  She should be the mom some days... just don't tell her that.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Six year old "Project Runway"

Mom?  Will you get my clothes ready?
Mom?  Can I have some choices?
Sure.  There are two outfits on your bed - you choose.

After, this small exchange, quite a bit of time passed before I saw my six year old again this morning.  Finally, I called her down to eat breakfast - which usually amounts to two crumbs of wheat bread - she's not a morning eater... or a morning talker... or a morning get anything done in a pleasant way kind of person, come to think of it.  When she eventually graced us all with her presence,  it was obvious that she had made a few adjustments to the clothing choices.  Orange and turquoise are nice, don't you think?  To top it off, we had put her hair in braids last night so that she could experience "crazy waves" for the next 12 hours before it all straightens out again.  So, to capitalize on this look, she threw out the hair tie I had left for her, and replaced it with the ribbon that is orange and white and is covered with soccer balls.  So close your eyes (after you read this) and imagine this:
  • Orange shirt with tie-dyed letters spelling "peace" across the front.
  • Turquoise Bermudas that have tiny pink flamingos stitched randomly throughout the material.
  • Crazy wild hair that has now been knotted into a pony tail coming right out the top of or her head - all corn stalk style - wrapped up with a soccer ball studded ribbon.
  • Hello Kitty puddle boots that come to just under her knees. (field trip day)
Here's the thing, I know I would have chosen the same outfit at that age and my mom - God Bless her - would have let me walk out the door as well.  There will be no phone calls from Gap Kids asking to sign her up for a modeling shoot today, but I know she is quite satisfied with her look.  Some days, I am painfully aware that she was indeed born on the the other side of the world and I struggle to see how we may be alike in any way.  Other days (like today) I am truly amazed at how similar she and I are.  She has obviously picked up my fashion sense.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Snake Ninja

So I pulled in the garage, get out, and realized I had company.  Uninvited company, that is.  As I was slinging my purse over my shoulder, I looked over to the empty stall.  Crictor the Boa Constrictor had joined me for some morning coffee evidently.  Actually, it was not a big squeezing snake - just a good sized garter snake.  Now what?  I called my mom.  That's what you're supposed to do, right?  She asked if I had a rake handy.  I think because of her dislike for slinking reptiles, she was suggesting I get a little more "assertive" with the snake than I had planned.  I then informed her that I didn't really want random snake parts in my garage.  Yes.  We both agreed that the push broom route would be better.

This whole time, the snake had not moved.  It was just lying there close to the garage door.  I was afraid that if I pushed the opener, it would startle and slink into some other hard to get to crevice in my garage.  So I cleared a path around the bikes, air compressor, and wheel barrow, kept the broom firmly gripped in my hand and was visualizing myself as a snake ninja.  I figured once I hit the button, I could Kung Fu Panda my way from the stairs to the opposite side of the garage and sweep the little critter right out the door.

Good plan.  Everything was set.  I hit the button, jumped off the stair, leaped over the folded up Slip n Slide, and like a thief in the night, I was face to face with the enemy.  I realized the snake had still not moved.  Was it dead?  All these theatrics for a dead snake?  I moved in closer. Nothing.  One more step.  Maybe I should just kick it.  Just then I noticed the teensy weensy tongue waving a teensy tiny wave.  Houston, we have a problem.  It is alive and now I am entirely too close to use the push broom effectively!  I must carefully back up, so that I can get the broom in front of me.  What if it gets all defensive and slinks up around the broom handle?  Does that happen? 

Okay, I'm set.  I began to push the snake out the door.  As soon as the bristles touched it, it went all up into a ball.  So I pushed it further out the door - I didn't seem to be getting the trajectory I wanted, so now I was literally in the drive way playing hockey with a snake ball.  I went a little wacko because I couldn't seem to stop pushing it away.  Just then the garbage truck pulled up to take away the week's garbage.  I didn't even notice.  I was in a snake ball trance.  Then I heard, "I think you got him!"  Meaning: Drop the broom and walk away from the snake, psycho.

Crisis averted.  All is well... until this morning.  Joseph is out in the front waiting for his ride to school and I hear, "Mom!!  He's back!  He's by the bricks... no, wait!  Ugh!  Mom, he went into the GARAGE!!!

I think that snake is just hard up for more entertainment.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Datsuns, Citations, and Pacers - Oh No!

Overheard in backseat while driving the carpool:
"Dude!  Look at that old car!  That is so super old!  That car is probably really rare!"
It was a Chevy Citation.
So after recovering from the realization that cars driven in the 1980s are actually kind of old now, I began to reflect on my days being driven around in a white Chevy Citation.  Yes, we had one.  It was the first car we owned that had cloth seats - that was a big deal.  No more hard, slippery seats that sent me sliding across the backseat into the arms of my annoyed older sister every time we turned a corner.  Gotta miss that.  Oh, and the warmth factor - that was pure luxury to actually have the opportunity to warm up while on the way to church.  Yeah... that was a car I liked - but it truly paled in comparison to the Datsun 210 that was yellow and sported simulated wood grain paneling along the side.  Now that was a ride.  My kids actually hit the top of the car ceiling with the back of their hand when they spot a yellow car now - that's how freakish it is to them to see such a sight - it has to be announced and then documented with a bang on the ceiling.  I didn't feel freakish driving it - it was zippy - and I certainly didn't tell them that was the second yellow car we owned.
My best friend in high school got to drive a custom painted conversion van - and I actually thought it was kind of cool. It was red and looked very "Electric Company-ish" with two-tone designs painted on the side doors.   I had another friend that drove a rig we called "The Ambulance."  That was a two-story job - you know, the vans that you could stand up in, but just in the middle.  Hers was white with blue and red striping on the side.  Looking back on it now, it's kind of like we were trying to out-do each other by trying to have the ugliest car.  That's how twisted we were - it was either have the ugliest car... or the biggest glasses - I'm so lucky - I had both!!

Friday, October 1, 2010

To Bee or Not to Bee

First, yesterday's excitement with the diggers tuned out to be the neighbor's new sod.  Phew! 

Second, it is the first day of October and my daughter announced her goal for the month:
Mom, I think it's time that everyone should have wings - even in the south pole, Mom - I know there is penguins there already, but their wings are all rubbery and flippery. Then everyone could fly to everyone whenever they wanted and they wouldn't even have to step through that metal box! 


You know, the one that clicks when you take your shoes off... at the airport.. and Mom, I think you should have pink fairy princess wings.

Why? (Feeling all aglow with the obvious admiration)

Because since you're probably too big to fly, you could be like that big bee that stays home while all the other bees buzz and stuff.

Oh.... So nothing will really change for me, right?  I'll just have big, fluffy wings to contend with while I'm vacuuming?

Of course not, Mom...  you can just put your wings in a pocket or something while you vacuum.

Well that sounds... fun.

I know, Mom! We can get a little cart or something for you and bunch of balloons, and we can attach 'em and stuff, and then you can come with us!!

So what began as a fresh start to the first of the month slid quickly downward - into being an obese mama bee who is schlepped around in a cleaning cart by her offspring.  Nice.  I think we have had enough goal setting for one month.