Friday, October 23, 2009

The Lights Are On...

In my previous post, I mentioned G's Super Fuzzy Hood. This hood carries some significance. You see, this is the fabulous Abercrombie coat Fashion Momma purchased on Ebay, brand new, for half price. It has fleece lining, and a wonderful edging of faux fur around the hood. It's stinkin' cute. In fact, one of my good friends has already laid claim to it as a hand-me-down for her daughter when mine outgrows it. The reason my daughter loves it so much is this faux fur.

My daughter has very good friend, N., who has decided she will be his wife. Not up for discussion. It's written in their futures. For now, she's accepted this idea, or at least the idea that he's a great friend...

Because N's momma is such a good friend, she watches my girl on a fairly regular basis while I'm out in the world, pretending to work and go to school. On one such occasion, I was in the process of picking up my girl from their house, when The Boy launched into one of his stories. Now, I love The Boy. Next to my girl, he's my favorite small person. But I believe even his beloved momma would tell you that the boy can work a story. We're talking side notes and vivid descriptions, prefaces, prologues, epilogues, you name it. They tend to go on. And on.

So the boy was blissfully narrating, and my girl, bless her heart, looked like she was listening with all her heart. She was nodding, and saying 'uh huh' and 'oh?' in all the right places. Suddenly, she throws on her hoodie, which is fleece lined, turns to The Boy and says, "Hm. I have a fuzzy hood!" That's right folks, the lights were on, but she was not home. She wasn't even in the neighborhood. She was in another country, but all that time she'd been giving the impression that she was engrossed with the fascinating tale The Boy was weaving. Oh yes, she's ready to be a wife, without doubt. She has learned that vital skill of 'listening' to her man's ramblings.

As a result, the two households now have a running joke. If parents are having a conversation, and one wants to check out, they just say, 'Hm. I have a fuzzy hood,' and walk away. End of story. So, that is why the coat is fabulous. It has a Super Fuzzy Hood.
P.S. Thanks Tammy for the fab pic!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mars and Venus and Friday Night Lights

I love football. Not to the degree my husband does; I don't start the countdown to college football season three months in advance. Nevertheless, I'm a fan. It follows that my favorite place to be on a Friday night in the fall is on a freezing metal bleacher, cheering on the home team. I also enjoy doing this in the company of six of my closest friends. Now that I'm an a-dolt (that's how my daughter sees me sometimes), this also means I have my kiddo in tow, not to mention my hubby. This also means my friends have their respective offspring and spouses in tow.

Back when I was in high school, (couldn't resist!) I spent a good two hours making sure I looked fabulous before I went to the game. After all, I went there to be seen, not to watch the game! Now I spend that time gathering blankets, hoodies, coats, hats and gloves. Hey, it's just as fun...

So last Friday, I rounded up all the necessities, swung by the ATM to grab some cash, and we were on our way. We met my husband there, because he was coming straight from work. So, we paid our 5 bucks to get in, and the fun began. All the kids began running around, acting like the animals they are, and all the mothers schlepped the blankets, coats, muck-lucks, etc to the stands, while the husbands stayed a good 20 feet ahead of us, pretending they were cool, single guys who had never ever met the crazy people swarming around them. Once we got settled in to the five benches it took to seat everyone, I stopped to take a quick breath. Well, half a breath, because my girl immediately HAD TO GO TO THE BATHROOM AND NEEDED A SNACK!!!! I managed to put her off for a good 3o seconds and then said, "FINE! Let's go." I handed off the load of coats to my boyfriend, accidentally smacking him in the face with G's "Super Fuzzy Hood" (another day for that story), and headed down the bleachers, kiddo in tow.

After walking a good 5 miles through the gauntlet of loud, screaming, hormonally-crazed teenagers, we reached the bathroom and did our business. Back to our seats we went. I came thisclose to getting my butt on the bleachers before she said, "I want Rollos and a Pepsi!" Sure, why not? A little sugar and caffeine should keep her warm. My good friend was there with her little boy and his friend, who was hanging with them for the weekend, and they decided they needed snacks too. After calling a Mother's Summit on Letting Kids Go to the Snack Bar On Their Own, the committee agreed to let them go BY THEMSELVES! They had strict instructions on sticking to each other like glue, and one Momma handed them her cell, making sure they knew the phone number for everyone within a five-mile radius, in case of an emergency. Off they went.

Meanwhile, the littler ones were bouncing around the bleachers, playing, pushing, screaming and yelling, and generally having a grand time. I should note at this point that the game was well underway, and I'd seen about 1.5 seconds of play. Mothers don't really go the games to watch football so much as to talk. It's what we do. Fathers go to watch the game. I know, it's a foreign concept, but we love them anyway. My husband gets in his football zone, and there is no way to break into that zone unless you're wearing pads, a jersey and a helmet.

The big kids finally returned, well-stocked with junk food, and happy as clams at having managed to do it on their own. Everyone did just fine for awhile, and then they started to get cold. It is cold when you're sitting on those bleachers in the middle of October, but one would think they'd stay warm jumping around, wrestling with each and making their mothers crazy. One would be wrong. Midway through the second quarter, they started in with "I'm freezing! Can we go now?!?!" Yeah, like that's going to happen. The moms all decided we should call Starbucks for a delivery, but that didn't happen, so I finally caved and went after hot chocolate and something that vaguely resembles coffee. While I was there, I decided to slap down a cool ten bucks for some burgers, throw a little ketchup on them, and head back to my seat. I handed my husband his burger and coffee, and I'm pretty sure the grunt was a thank you. He has so many grunts, it's difficult to tell sometimes. We watched some more football, which was getting exciting; the team pulled off the win in the last few seconds! Then we gathered everything up and began the long walk back to the car.

By the time we got home, my butt was frozen solid, so I slammed down a hot chocolate with some peppermint schnapps and began to slowly thaw. Once I could move my lips again, I asked the husband how he enjoyed the game. "It was fine." I said, "You didn't mind all the kids jumping around and screaming in your ear?" To which he responded, "Huh? They were doing all that? I didn't hear a thing." It's a gift. I don't know how he does it, but he does.

So yes, I love football, but in order to really enjoy it, I'll stick to my couch and the remote, thank you very much.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Instructions Not Included

My baby girl just turned nine. So, I'm a year shy of the Decade of Parenting Milestone. This has me thinking about the job I've done so far. Overall, I'm comfortable with my efforts, though there's always room for improvement. I have more good days than bad, so I consider it a win.

Parents always talk about the fact that kiddos don't come with instructions; I'm not sure that's always a bad thing, however. If we all had the same parenting style, how would our kids turn out? I know I'm not raising my daughter the same way I was raised, and I'm guessing that if The Lord blesses her with children, her style will be different than mine. That's okay.

Every once in awhile, I have a moment when I truly feel like a mom. My last was Sunday morning, her birthday. She was still sleeping, and I looked at her, and looked at the clock, and realized that nine years and one hour earlier, I'd given birth to my Grace. I was so struck by the fact that I had given life to something so precious and wonderful, I was brought to tears. I have my flaws, believe me, but I take so much pride in being a mom. One of my favorite quotes is about having children being like sending your heart out into the world. That is so true. Every day, when I drop her off at school, I say a little prayer, asking God to watch out for my baby, because there is no better being than He to take care of her.

Some days, though, I just prefer to keep her with me. Yesterday was one of those times. She had gone to bed Sunday night with an upset tummy, and when I woke her for school, she said it was still bothering her. So, I let her stay home. I know she would've been fine going to school, she wasn't running a fever, coughing, vomiting, etc, but I kept her home all the same. Sometimes she just needs a personal day; I think we all do. So we stayed home and enjoyed our day. We played board games, watched The Wizard of Oz and New in Town (birthday gifts), made popcorn and Reese's milkshakes, and basically had a grand time. I call her my Cuddle Bug, and we made the most of our day, getting in lots of cuddling on the couch! And yes, if PH reads this, I'll probably get another speech about keeping kiddos in school, which I totally support, but it was worth it. I was talking to PH's wife today, and she agreed with me that kids just need a break every once in awhile, and that he needs to relax just a bit. All the same, I value her education, so I don't let this happen very often. Hopefully it'll work out alright; the manual doesn't say anything about personal days for kids...

Friday, October 16, 2009

I Miss the Good Ol' Days

The utterance of these words automatically puts me in the "If it's too loud, you're too old" group, but I don't care. I have recently come to grips with the fact that I am no longer 18. This was triggered in part by the fact that my baby is turning nine this weekend. For quite some time now, I've told myself, "We need to lose our baby weight." At some point, I had to accept that when your kiddo is no longer a baby, it's not baby weight, it's just weight. And it's time for it to disappear. Unfortunately, my metabolism is not what is was when I was 18. I used to be able to just think about losing 5 pounds, and it'd be gone. Now, I think about losing 5 pounds and I gain 10. So yes, I miss those days.

Having decided I need to start working out, I took the first step-finding the right music to rock my workout. Yes, this is the most important part. Do not skip it. So, I went in search of jamz. Not jams, which you spread on toast, but Jamz. I was happily cruising iTunes, remembering such greats as Tone Loc (always good), Young MC, Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock and countless others, when I found Da Dip by Freak Nasty. Yes, I know...

Anyway, I read a review some little 15 year old had written about Da Dip, and I nearly cried. Keep in mind, this song was released in 1997. This little thing wrote, "I know this is an oldie..." An oldie?!?!?! Seriously? Oh, I am getting old! Apparently, songs I considered to be good for working up a sweat are oldies. It's a sad day. Almost as sad as the day I got my first "Ma'm" instead of "Miss". Oh that was a dark day in history.

Add this to my utterance of "Back when I was a kid..." and you've got yourself an old lady. My daughter had some math homework the other night that nearly did me in. She's a third grader, and they're working on subtracting large numbers. Some of these require the old borrow and carry method. You know, when the top number is smaller than the bottom, you borrow from the tens column and subtract... Well, that's how I was taught, and it's served me well all these long years. Until the other night. She was trying to teach me the "Counting Up Method" and by the end, I was sitting in the corner, sucking my thumb, rocking back and forth and mumbling incoherently. Let me see if I can try to explain. Rather than subtracting the small number from the big number, you start with the small number, and add to it incrementally until you reach the big number. Once you've done that, you find the sum of all your increments, and that is the difference between the big number and the small number. Whew. Clear as mud, right? Okay, say it's 940-368. Start with 368, add 2. Now you have 370. Add 30. Now you have 400. Add 500. Now you have 900. Add 40. Now you have 940. Now add 2+30+500+40=572. There you have it, 940-368=572. Sooo simple. Who needs the old style? Not me, this is faster and takes less paper and pencil lead, right?

I tried to bite my tongue, I really did. In the end, I lost. "Back when I was a kid, we learned the simple way. I don't know why someone decided to complicate something that has worked just fine for generations! I was taught the same way my parents were taught, and their parents and grandparents...!!!!" When I realized this might sound like a criticism of my daughter, I shut up. I told her I wasn't trying to criticize her, and that if the new way was easier for her, that was totally okay with me. I also told her that her momma was too old to learn new math, so she was going to have to be patient with me. There is something wrong when I don't understand third grade math. I felt better when I talked to my good friend, who said she spent the evening in the fetal position while her baby did his homework. Last night, I felt even better when another mother came up to me at our daughters' soccer game and said, "Did you have a hard time with G's homework the other night?" To which I responded, "Oh My Lord, yes!!!" She said she was glad she's married to a teacher, because he was able to help their daughter. She couldn't make sense of it either. So apparently, I am not the only parent who misses the good ol' days.

One more reason I miss the days when electricity was brand new, and indoor plumbing hadn't been thought of yet? Picture Day. Again, when I was a kid, everyone sat down in front of the blue cloth, said cheese, got their little black comb, and went on their way. Then we'd all sit together, along with our teacher, and they'd put the black felt board in front of us with the year and grade stuck on there with white plastic letters. Two months later, we'd get our packages of 8x10s, 5x7s, wallet sized pics, and exchanges, along with a class picture. Everyone would trade pics, and life was good. You'd scribble some little sentiment on the back of your exchanges, hand them out by the dozens, and collect all your friends' pics like trading cards. Good times. I have since learned that it's just not that simple. First of all, they've done away with the exchange-sized pics. Gone. No longer available. Wallet is as small as they get. Fine, that I can deal with. The ever-more complicated order form I cannot. The sky's the limit. Different poses, different colors, 5 million packages to choose from. I need a PhD in Photography Form Decoding just to order my daughter's school pictures! This year, they added the option of ordering online, where you could find even more options. Not happening. I will stick to the form, thank you very much. After poring over the order form for a good 10 hours, calling friends and family to see if they knew what I was supposed to do, and consulting with my daughter, I chose the standard blue background. That's right. The good old head shot with the blue backdrop. My hands were shaking as I wrote in my selections and signed the check. Hopefully I did it right, but I really have no idea. I'm not alone in this one either. Even the principal was bemoaning the new system at the PTO meeting last night. He said, "It used to be just one pose, now they want you to do two!" I tell you, newer isn't always better.

So yes, I miss the Good Ol' Days. I used to be hip, now I know that some day I'm going to need a new hip. But until then, I'm going to jam my headphones in my ears, step on that elliptical and sweat to Bust a Move and Wild Thing and Da Dip.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

You're Just Too Gourd To Be True

Ah, Fall. My favorite time of year. Crisp, cool air. Beautiful colors. Football. And, the yearly trip to the local pumpkin patch for some old-fashioned fun. Yes, it's a wonderful season.

Last Saturday, my girl went with the neighbors out to the pumpkin patch to pick just the right one. I sent her with cash to pay for said pumpkin, limiting her to two. That quickly flew out the window, right about the time she walked out the door.

A few hours later, she returned, quarry in hand. Three pumpkins. Not two, three. Okay fine. So, she showed me the fantastic pumpkins, and her little grin said it all. She found a great one, good size, bright orange, and two little ones, one green and white, the other orange and white. She then proceeded to wash her pumpkins. You heard me. Wash them. Soap, warm water and scrub brush. Once they were clean, they were wrapped in towels, and gingerly squired away to a safe place. The two small guys were put in a storage tub, and the big guy hung out in the tub. That way, when she woke up the next morning, he would be all ready for his next bath. Yes, another bath. Mr. Pumpkin didn't set one toe outside the tub, but apparently he found dirt sometime in the night, because he was scrubbed and dried again. As were the other two. I got distracted by housework and studying, so I didn't keep tabs on the pumpkin goings-on. The little guys stayed busy, however. Especially the green and white one. He spent most of his day walking around with the girl, enjoying a fine Sunday afternoon. At some point, he must have mentioned he was cold, because the next time I saw him, he was swaddled in blankets and a heating pad. A heating pad. I didn't give it much thought at the time. Later, however, when we were doing the bedtime routine, she whipped out the little gourd, and he was a tad warm. She said, "Holy cow mom, feel him! He's really hot!!!" At this point, I realized he'd been slowly baking on a heating pad for a few hours. Not good for a gourd, unless you're planning to serve him for dinner. So, I explained that heat was not Mr. Pumpkin's friend, and if she wanted to keep him around for awhile, he needed to be kept away from the heating pad. Before you have a child, you never even think about the possibility of telling someone that a heating pad isn't good for a pumpkin. There I was however, getting ready for story time, and explaining to my daughter that heat and pumpkins don't mix well.

So, once Greenie cooled down to a balmy 200 degrees, he was gently tucked in between us, and wished sweet dreams. I started reading a story, and was interrupted by, "Mom! I'm going to miss him when I'm in school tomorrow!!!" Again, not a conversation you see yourself having..."It's okay baby. When you make your bed in the morning, you can tuck him under a blanket, and he'll be waiting for you when you get home from school." That seemed to put her mind at ease, and we proceeded with story time. She fell asleep, holding the little guy in her arms, and dreaming sweet dreams of pumpkin patches and jack-o-lanterns.

I needed to clean the tub yesterday, so I moved The Big Guy to the hallway. And there he sits, waiting patiently for his next bath. I tell you, pumpkins have never had it so good. Last night, while I was making dinner, she brought The Little Guy into the kitchen and announced, "He needs a drink." I think I need a drink. She filled a Tupperware with water, then inverted the little green one onto the bowl, so the stem was in the water. Fine, commence drinking, Mr. Gourd. Apparently, that wasn't working, so she grabbed a big straw, a funnel and a pair of scissors. I was cooking and visiting with my husband, so I didn't totally notice what she was doing. Five minutes later, she had cut slits in the bottom of the straw so it would fit over the stem, and stuck the funnel in the top. I guess the idea was to pour water directly into the stem by funneling it down the straw. Ingenious. Whether it would've worked, the world may never know. My girl got distracted by something, and the poor little guy didn't get his drink. Come to think of it, neither did I.
Photos copyright 2009 Cody Dahlen