Sunday, August 29, 2010

The countdown continues

10, 9, 8... Eight days until school begins. Sabrina says she doesn't want to wait that long. Who can blame her? She's starting kindergarten and it's got to be the most exciting time of her life. The older one? Yeah, she wishes she could turn back time so she doesn't have to go to school. Who can blame her? Third grade! Isn't that when school actually starts to feel hard? When you have to learn division and all of a sudden it's not as easy as you thought it was? I always found the odd grades to be the hardest. Loved second and fourth - absolutely hated fifth. I wonder what that is about. But, I just know this week is going to be stressful - one kid anxious about finally getting on a school bus and going to school and the other one anxious about not wanting to go back! Maybe I can remind her of all the wonderful school lunches she'll get to eat. Oh, wait, I'm trying to make it sound good.

Just wondering....

Why do people put fake flowers outside in real dirt? Do they think it makes the dirt look better? Are they hoping they magically turn real? Or do they think they're actually fooling us? Hmmm.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Toy story

Today I was doing a little cleaning, I mean purging, in my daughter's room. (Shhh. Don't tell her. She freaks when she finds out I threw away any of her junk, I mean, stuff). When I'm cleaning, I tend to lose focus. I start on one thing and then see something else that needs doing, so I walk away and do that and leave the first thing half done. I'm knee deep in Webkinz and Build a Bears and Polly Pockets and Littlest Pet Shop and I'm trying to organize everything. I put the dolls in one spot, the clothes in another and the accessories somewhere else. Don't ask me why I'm doing it because she's just going to play with the stuff and fling it willy nilly wherever she wants. The girl just has no sense of how to do things the way I would do them. She's got naked Barbies out the wazoo! I don't get it. Here they are, naked, no shoes and their hair is an absolute mess. The American Girl dolls are wearing clothes that belong to stuffed animals. What is going on here? I must find a brush. I must coordinate the clothes and match the shoes and do something about this mess. Mind you, I could care less if my shoes match my outfit, but Barbie is a different story. As a child, Barbie was one of my favorites. I loved doing her hair and dressing her. My mom used to make the coolest clothes for my dolls and I had some favorite outfits. I still love playing with them. I dig it when the girls ask me to play barbies, which they don't do very often. Do you love playing with your kids' toys? What are your favorites? I bet all the guys still love playing with Matchbox cars. I'm sure there are some Lego fans out there too. I like puzzles and Lincoln Logs. Big fan of the Chinese jump rope. And if someone bought my kids TinkerToys, they'd have to fight me for 'em. Gotta go now. Supercool Malibu Barbie's got some knots I need to take care of!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Blue Ribbon

This year, my daughters entered the arts and crafts competition at the Dutchess County Fair and they won some blue ribbons. It was very sweet to see their faces when they found out that they won. The older one was a bit disappointed that she didn't win as much as her little sister, but she's in a tough age group. There are some serious artists in the youth division. When I saw some of those items, I couldn't believe they were handmade, much less by an 11-year-old! The journey to the blue ribbon was a long one. These crafts aren't always easy. They have rules and you have to follow them. If you don't follow them, you have no chance of a prize. And, who's fault is that? Mine. All that work for nothing because Mommy didn't bother reading the directions! So, I didn't have her paint the egg carton for the paper-flower-egg-carton garden and put green paper grass on it instead. Fail. They give you great ideas for crafts to do with your kids. A felt name banner (just remember you must tie ribbons to the wooden dowel or you fail). A paper mosaic (use a colored background or you fail). A placemat with woven foam strips. A decorated t-shirt. Ojo de dios (the yarn tied around popsicle sticks). Next year, I will remember to start earlier so it won't seem like such a chore. At the end, we weren't having fun. We were trying to meet a deadline. And next year, I know the older one will focus on quality instead of quantity, because she saw what she was up against. Yes, the stiff competition of the county fair will compel her to new heights in craft making. But, for this year, the blue ribbons were fantastic. Next year, maybe even I will enter! Biggest pumpkin? Best canned jelly? Who knows!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Back to school

Oh, today was one of those days when I wished I lived down South so my kids would already be back at school! There are about 12 days left until school starts and it can't come any sooner. I don't know if they sense the end of summer coming. I don't know if it's the rainy weather that we've had the past few days - but it's something. They are on edge, like tigers waiting to pounce on the unsuspecting gazelle at the watering hole. And, more often than not, I am that frail, injured doe laying powerless under the weight and force of the mighty cat. I think they have broken me. Lately it seems I've been walking around in this absent-minded state wondering what I'm doing and what day it is. Where are my keys? Why can't I find my money. Did I leave my credit card at the last store? Is that pain behind my right eye a migraine? Before I had children, I used to wonder why moms said they couldn't wait until September. I couldn't understand why they'd want kids if they wanted them out of the house so much. Believe me, before I had kids, I thought a lot of dumb things about motherhood. It's not that I want my kids gone, but I want my kids gone, you know? I just can't win. They're bored. They're over-scheduled. There's nothing to do. There's too much to do. It's hot. It's raining. They want to go somewhere. They want to stay home. And when you have more than one child, there are different opinions and desires. So, they're fighting with you and they're fighting with each other and everyone is just ready to kill each other sometimes. It's not all that bad. I'm just focusing on the worst part. I'm not telling you about all the fun and laughter and silliness and stuff we do - because that's not as funny. So, September 7, the big one starts third grade and the next day my baby goes off to kindergarten. And then, they don't get a day off until..... September 9. Yes, that's right. Thank you Rosh Hashanah. What a cruel joke!

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Is it important to you that your child have good manners? To me, that's really high on the list of things my children need to learn. For some people, it's not a big deal but I just can't have girls who chew with their mouths open, don't hold the door for someone or interrupt when someone is talking. I think the biggest manner faux pas I see in kids these days is not saying please and thank you. It's bad enough when they say "I want" instead of "May I have" but not saying thanks is just not good. I got a real up close experience with this the other day with a child who kept asking me for things. I thought it was a little rude since the event wasn't for him and he wasn't really deserving of anything but he kept asking. But, you kind of let it slide when it's a kid. You cut them a break. And I cut him a bigger break when his chaperon did the same thing! If an adult has the nerve to walk up to someone and take something, why should a kid do it? They learn manners from us. We can't expect them to behave properly if we can't. At the same event with the rude boy, I saw a girl calling her mom over and over and over. She must have said Mom about 30 times. I thought she couldn't find the woman or something. But, there was the mom, standing right in front of the girl ignoring her while she talked on the phone. Now, I'm not saying to allow this type of behavior, but ignoring it does nothing. The mom shouldn't have been on the phone in the first place (but that's a whole 'nother show Oprah) and all she had to do was put the call on hold for a moment and tell her daughter politely not to interrupt and to wait patiently for her to be done. Easier said than done, but you have to use these teachable moments to teach your kids - not ignore their bad behavior and get angry with them for not using good manners! If you don't teach your kids to say please and thank you at home, they're not going to say it at school or at the park or anywhere else! Manners can't be taught by television. When is the last time you heard Hannah Montana say thank you or Squidward say please? And, yes, I know it's bad manners to point out that someone has bad manners, so please forgive me. Thank you and have a nice day.

Friday, August 20, 2010


Yesterday, my little girl wasn't feeling too well. Headache, fever, chills. Then, she let it all out and threw up. Unlike adults, kids don't really know when they're going to throw up so they don't think to run into the bathroom and basically puke all over themselves and the couch and the floor and blankets and pillows and anything else that is in a five-foot radius. Gross, right? Not so much. When you're a mom, you just deal with it and get on with life. You brush her hair out of her face and wipe the vomit off yourself and just make sure she's okay. But, it got me to thinking about what does gross us out. It doesn't bother you so much when you have to clean up your own child - when she's got a cold and you're wiping her nose or when she has an accident and you have to clean up a little poop. But, what if it was another child? It's not so gross when it's your own kid, but when it belongs to someone else? Yucky. Think about it. You're babysitting your nephew and he has a bad case of diarrhea. You're at the park and your BFFs daughter has a stream of something flowing from her nose. You're in music class and the baby next to you sneezes and sprays you. Ick. All of it. Ick. Did I just make you throw up in your own mouth a little? Sorry. Have a nice day!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

There goes my baby

My little girl is officially not little anymore! Sabrina is 5 today and I just can't believe it. I think five is a hard birthday. It means your kid is not a baby anymore. There's such a noticeable change in them. They want to do everything alone now. I know they should be doing things by themselves, but doesn't that kind of make you feel helpless as a parent? Sure, they still need you for lots of stuff, but now they realize that there are lots of things they don't need you for and they don't mind telling you that. I can remember five years ago like it was yesterday. It was so darn hot. I think there were more than a dozen days that summer that were over 90 degrees. I remember going to hospital on the 17th, only to be sent home with false labor. My first child was two weeks early and my second was born on her actual due date. They told me that only happens 30 percent of the time. Or was it 13? I don't remember - I was in pain. I think I got to the hospital around 5 in the morning and she was born at 8. Pushed twice. The nurse manager went around to all the other laboring moms and told them "Hey, that lady in there just had her baby in under three minutes so let's go!" Needless to say, they all hated me. But they got their revenge. Minutes after she was born, I was in the shower, dressed and kicked out of the beautiful room. They were so crowded with moms that I got sent to the annex - the old maternity wing. Ick. I was all alone and not in one of those pretty rooms that feels like home. Someone forgot to put me on the meal list so I didn't get food from the hospital until I was leaving. In the nice wing, your view is the Hudson River. From my room, I got to see the incinerator and listen to the garbage trucks at 6 in the morning! After my first night, they said I could go home. Yeah, right - I can get a free night alone where I can rest and get some sleep and you will take care of my baby and tend to my every need while my insurance company pays for it? Um, I think I'll stay - bad view and all. It was a weird time for me. When Sabrina came, I wasn't even sure what I was going to name her. Chris picked the name, actually. I wanted to name her Caroline and call her Carly. It's a blessing, now, because we would have ended up going nuts calling our girls Caty and Carly! It was just different the second time around. I wasn't as emotional because I knew what to expect. This time, I wasn't so scared. So, in a snap, it's five years later. I know I'm going to blink my eyes and she'll be 25! Everyone tells you it goes so fast. It goes too fast. Happy Birthday to my baby.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


I know it's not nice to call your child names, but I think one of my kids might be a little hoarder! Just cleaning out my car and checked the seat pocket in front of her. When I tell you I pulled out a shopping bag full of junk, I'm not kidding. And I just can't describe it. It's junk. Trinkets and baubles and little games and kids meal toys and books and papers and pens and notebooks and dolls and toys and it goes on and on. Thankfully, she wasn't with me when the cleaning was getting done because she would have freaked when I threw it out. I am not allowed to throw out anything if that child is around. And no matter how much stuff she has, she always needs more. Take those silly bands bracelets. She's got a bunch of them. She doesn't wear them. She just has them. I think she actually likes just counting them. It's like some type of comfort to her knowing that she has more than most of America. I've tried to try to get her to give away one thing before she gets something else, but that hasn't worked much. She likes collecting things. Usually, a kid will have one collection, maybe two. Back in the day, it was stamps or coins or baseball cards. Now it's Pokemon and Littlest Pet Shop dolls and a zillion other things that have no value and confuse the heck out of parents. I can't blame her though. I'm sure she learned it from me. I don't like to throw things out either. I used to collect stickers for crying out loud. I mean, who buys stickers and never uses them? My kids now own some of the stuffed animals I had as a child, so I guess that was one of my collections too. I even tried to justify my collections of rocks and shells by thinking of them as souvenirs of my trips. And I didn't stop when I got older. I used to keep nametags and press passes. But, my collections had to stop when I had kids. I would love to say it was because I made life-changing decisions or became a new woman, but that's not the case. I had to make room for all of their junk!

Sunday, August 15, 2010


In my house, sorry sometimes seems the easiest word. And why is that? Why is it that my kids keep doing things they're not supposed to and thinking it's okay to be naughty as long as they say sorry? My oldest has this habit of opening things and leaving the wrapper lying about. For someone who collects so much stuff, this kid won't do anything about collecting her messes. She starts a project, doesn't finish, and leaves all the scraps for me to pick up. And before I can turn around, she's in the middle of another project. Me: "How many times do I have to tell you to not leave your mess for me to clean?" Her: "I'm sorry, Mom." Then she makes another mess. I love it! I don't know why I bother telling my kids not to do something. They just do it anyway. I remember, when I was a kid, my mom used to tell me "Don't be sorry. Just don't do it in the first place." Yes, I must admit, I say it too. It probably makes no sense. I know it made no sense to me as a child, but it just comes out. It rolls off the tongue so easily. I shouldn't do it. Sorry. I mean, I'm not sorry.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Being hands-on or off?

Are you a good teacher? I'm not. I will admit it. I think some people are just born with this ability to teach people how to do things. That was something left out of my genetic makeup, I guess. To me, it is easier to do something myself than to show someone how to do it. So, it is extra hard when it comes to my kids. Do you know how badly I want to fix that backwards "Z" every time my little one writes my name? Do you know how much I want to put the glue on the paper and lightly tap the jar of glitter onto the picture instead of watching my kids dump globs of glue and pour all the glitter all over the place? This week, my daughters have been working on some arts and crafts entries for the upcoming county fair. (Side note: That is a sentence I never would have thought I would utter in my life!) So, I've been helping them a little when they need something difficult done (hot glue, major scissoring, etc). But it is killing me! I'm not saying I'm an artist - far from it. But, I can draw a heart and a smiley face and a rainbow. I'm pretty good at coloring inside the lines. That's why it's hard for me to let them color outside the lines. But I do it. That is the important part. No matter how differently I would do the project, I never let them know. I never telling them what they're doing is wrong. I never criticize or say I don't like something. Sure, the fairy can have green hair and purple wings and a yellow dress. Yes, there are three noses on that fish and they are all beautiful. No, it doesn't look bad that you cut the girl's ears off and put her earrings on her fingers. Art is subjective, right? One person's trash is another person's treasure, right? As parents, they all have to be treasures. I'm not going to lie to my kids and tell them they're da Vinci or anything, but I will tell them I love the colors they used or that the polka dots really make that dolphin stand out in the picture. I will not do the project for them. I will not impress my vision on their creation. I guess my teaching method is as hands off as you can get!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Private time

When is the last time you went to the bathroom alone? If you're a guy, I'm sure this isn't an issue. Either you're completely used to standing shoulder-to-shoulder with someone while you relieve yourself or you have never had someone open the door while you're doing it. My kids seem to think the bathroom is our family room. It's our little social gathering area but they don't realize that I didn't send out an invitation. They haven't really grasped the whole concept of knocking. They just walk (I mean, barge) in and start a conversation. Today, I turn around in the shower to an open curtain and two little girls laughing telling me "Shave your armpits, Mom!" Apparently, shaving is funny to these kids. And, believe you me, I will be the mom that barges in on them when they're 16 and yell "Shave your armpits!" and laugh hysterically. I can't wait. They are just obsessed with me when I'm in there and I don't know why. Really? Is this fun for you? Sure, it is mom. It's even funnier when we snap a picture of you sitting on the toilet. That is just the funniest thing ever! Go away little girls. Give mommy some private time. I know what you're saying - lock the door. But that just causes them to go loony and try to kick the door down. So, it's save my dignity or save my hardware. I'm choosing hardware for now. Oh, yeah, I found the camera (finally) and deleted the picture. The kids are sleeping now so I'm off to the bathroom!

Sunday, August 8, 2010


I'm sure you know this by now but God knows everything. And He really, really, really knows when to remind you that you are not following the right path in your life.
Today, the message at church was about integrity. It really hit home. Most of us think we have it but most of us don't. Of course, none of us want to consider ourselves phony or hypocritical, but we are. If you act one way when you're out with your buddies and another way when you're at the PTA meeting - you're being hypocritical. You should be the same person at all times so people will honor you, trust you and consider you a person of integrity. Sounds easy, right? Well, it's not so easy. If your heart is divided, it's impossible.
The message that really sunk in? Being a parent with integrity. You've got to walk the talk. You can't just tell your kids to do something if you don't do it yourself. It's that whole "do as I say, not as I do" mentality. With kids, pastor said, "more is caught then taught". They emulate what you do so much more than do what you say. Does your behavior match your beliefs? So, can you tell your kid not to give in to harmful vices if you smoke? Can you tell them not to curse while your dishing out the f-bomb while you're on the phone with a friend? Can you tell them not to be mean to the shy girl in class when you're chatting with your girlfriends about the other lady in the playgroup? It's one thing to make your outside look pretty, but the inside needs to match. You've got to model that good behavior for your kids...and you've got to mean it. Don't just give them lip service. If you do, they will never ever respect you. Just ask a friend with a teenager - is there something they would change if they could go back to when that child was 8? Or ask a friend with an adult child. Did one bad decision they made during the teen years have a major impact on their lives? I'm glad my oldest was sitting with me in the service and I really hope she "caught" the message. Well, maybe not, since I'm sure from now on when I make a mistake she will question my integrity. But, I will tell you this - and I am writing the message on my mirror so I see it every morning when I wake up and every night before I go to bed - from now on my goal is to make my walk match my talk.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Good things

Is the glass half empty or half full? Well, if it's a glass of water with fiber powder in it, it is definitely half full. A glass of beer? it's half empty. Does the way you answer that question determine your outlook on life? I guess I'm a half-empty kind of gal. But that doesn't mean I'm negative. Critical, sarcastic, picky - sure, but not negative. This week, I met two women who brought a little sunshine to my days. They weren't all giddy and sappy and silly. They were just regular women who have regular problems and regular lives. The biggest thing they have in common? God. And I love that you could just tell that they have God in their lives and that they are grateful for their blessings. Even when their teenage son was giving them a hard time about something. Or their pre-teen daughter wasn't getting along with her siblings. These women realize that these issues are just a part of life and by putting their faith in God, they can help their kids make good decisions and be better moms. I need to do that more in my own life. I try to make all the decisions myself instead of asking for His help. Sure, we can learn from our own parents or read articles on parenting, but really what we should all be doing is praying every day to be good parents and to lead our children down the right path. I know I often get stuck in a rut of seeing the bad things my kids do. Of course, I praise them for the good things, but I think I make too much of the bad things. I need to not make small indiscretions into monumental acts of disobedience. I can pick my battles. I can shrug things off. I can count to ten. I can let things slide. I must. And remember, if your glass is half empty, you can always fill it up!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Pick me! Pick me!

Do you ever feel left out? Do you remember how it felt when you were a kid? I can hear the hearts breaking everywhere. Over the past few weeks, I have been a few places with my youngest where they were doing audience participation things. She would raise her hand but didn't get picked. The look of disappointment on her face - oh, man, just thinking about it now makes me tear up. That poor little girl. Sure, she is going to learn in life that you can't always be chosen for everything. She'll even learn that there will be plenty of times when she would rather not be chosen for anything! But, I don't want her spirits to be deflated. So what do you do when the mom of the boy your child adores doesn't include your kids at the birthday party? How do you explain it to your kid? Do you just ignore it and avoid it and pretend it never happened? Do you say "Billy's mom didn't invite you to his party. I'm sorry. I don't know why." I think that's a bad idea, but I'm sure there are parents who do that sort of thing. Everyone wants their child to get chosen for things - we want them to be liked and admired and included on everyone's list of favorite people. But that can't always happen. So, I guess we just have to like them and admire them even more to make up the difference!