Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hurricane Josephine?

With all the news coverage surrounding Hurricane Gustav as of late, imagine my surprise to discover that coming down the pike was, of all things... Tropical Depression Josephine. Now, I'm almost positive there has never been a Hurricane Staci. (okay, nope, just googled it... there has officially been no Hurricane with my name!)

And now, quite possibly, there may be a hurricane with the same name as my oldest child... I can picture the headlines now: "Josephine causes flooding in low lying areas." "Residents in the Gulf Coast are being warned to take cover from Josephine." (word of note: there *was* a Hurricane Josephine in 1984 and a tropical storm in 1996!)

Not that I want it to be destructive, mind you , it's just that so many of those headlines mirror what is happening in our own home with our own Josephine now that she is newly 8 years old. Going from mild tropical storm to full blown hurricane in a very brief time span... A change in the wind pattern, and she completely changes her path...

In much the same way, our Josie can go from easy going, loving kid to a spiteful big sister who screams at her siblings and slams doors. Yep, in a heartbeat. The same child that is loved by all her friends and teachers can turn on a dime, and tell her brother and sister... 'that's fine... I'm not playing with you EVER AGAIN!' (usually because they didn't want to play 'her way'). "GET OUT OF MY ROOM!!!" is frequently heard in our home, as well. And the destruction of her bedroom in the wake of a playdate... don't even get me started!

It's hard to predict what a hurricane is going to do...
Welcome to life with Josephine ;-)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What this blog is really about...

Yesterday was the first day of school, and I got up early to get ready before the kids got up. I then got the kids up so they could get ready for school... but that's not what this blog is about.

We headed downstairs and the kids ate breakfast, using their 'Special Day' plates, and we took plenty of pictures before heading to school. We walked all the way to school, all five of us, and dropped the kids off at their classroom. I took pictures of our big 1st and 2nd graders with their teachers, hugged them goodbye, and walked back home...but that's not what this blog is about.

At home, Libby was moping for her brother and sister, so we headed out to have a little 'retail therapy', went to the bookstore where she played with trains for a little while, and then went out to a special 'girls' lunch...

Nope... still not what *this* blog is about.

Once we picked up the older two from school, we headed home to celebrate with a special dinner and our traditional 'first day of school cake'. I then went to two meetings to help plan a community festival which raises money for a number of charities. But, once again, that's not what this is about...

What this blog is *really* about is the fact that I did all this without realizing that my pink underpants were visible underneath my light-colored (albeit lined!) skirt.

8:00 p.m. is no time to find out that little bit of information.

Disney Fever

Now, don't get me wrong... I LOVE Disney!! Disneyland, Disneyworld... heck, even the Disney channel (which was playing almost nonstop at my house the week before school started!). My husband and I even went to Disneyworld on our honeymoon, for heaven's sake!

But with our family trip to Disneyworld coming up in October (my kids can talk of nothing else), the new High School Musical movie coming out in theaters, and the upcoming Cheetah Girls' movie 'exclusively on the Disney channel' this Friday night... I'm getting a little weary of 'all things Disney' right now.

And I admit I'm a little nostalgic for the Disney of old... remember a certain mouse?!! Goofy? Donald? Now its all 'tween' stuff... Zach and Cody, Hannah Montana... and I must say we've definitely bought into the hype around here. My kids love it all...we have the posters, the lunchboxes, and the t-shirts. We've even seen High School Musical, the Ice Tour! (I know, I know...)

Of course, they know all the animated Disney movie characters, too... Lightning McQueen, the princesses, Nemo... and I know they'll be so excited to get to see them on our pilgrimage to Orlando...we'll take pictures, and get autographs (wait... I don't think a fish can hold a pen...)

But honestly I'm not sure if my kids know much about the 'old school' Disney... you know...the one *we* grew up with. Those characters that were chimney sweeps, the ones that soared over a city in a flying bed, and taught us in song that a 'spoonful of sugar' was a pretty great remedy.

"Mary Poppins? Who's she... Hannah Montana's aunt?"

My dirty little secret...

Yes, that's right, I have a secret.

Don't we all? Don't we all have that one thing (or more) that we would hate for people to discover about us? We take great pains to hide it... oftentimes, not even admitting to ourselves how bad it has gotten?

Well, the time has come for me to reveal that secret and I know that it might shock a lot of people...

But... my upstairs master bathroom is a wreck. Yes, it's true. And I'm not talking about a little bit dirty, with a few towels on the floor. I'm talking makeup and perfume bottles strewn across the counter, hairspray on the mirror, and half empty diet Coke cans next to my jewelry box.

Yes, me! I am almost pathologically organized in the rest of my house (labels on the pantry shelves, anyone?!), but I just can't seem to get a handle on my bathroom. I make every effort to get it clean and I always swear, "Never again will it get this messy!", but much like a junkie, I always revert back to my old habits, Rubbermaid containers, be damned!

So, my mid-year resolution is to get that mess contained... under control... I'll make it my own personal 12-step program. Step one... admit you have a problem. So there, my friends... my secret is out, and my journey has begun.

Just please don't be surprised if I call you in the middle of the night for support when I have the urge to leave that empty bottle of shampoo in the shower stall.

All *this* for a few mini Twix bars?!!

Now I'm not sure if its unique to my kids, but Halloween is a topic of year round discussion in our household. It's only August, and we've already 'tried out' and discarded multiple costume ideas for that one night in October where the goblins and ghouls come out to play.

Josie is famous for saying... "How about we be *that* for Halloween this year, Mom?" To which I inevitably reply... "Can we get through Easter first, honey?" (or 'your birthday' or 'Arbor Day', etc.) The kids love to brainstorm Halloween costumes, draw up designs for them, and *practice* Halloween at various points throughout the year. They will knock on every door in our house, shout 'Trick or Treat' and expect me to give them something. I have been known to hand out pretzels, raisins, and even uncooked pasta (don't interrupt me while I'm fixing dinner!!)

I guess they come by it honestly... I have to say, I've set the bar pretty high. From the time Josie was old enough to toddle up to the door and say "Twickatweet", we've dressed in a particular 'theme'. And of course, we can't ever actually 'buy' the costumes... everything is made by hand, stitched together, stapled lopsidedly, and velcro'ed within an inch of its life.

From Little Bo Peep with her sheep, to the year 2005 when all 5 of us dressed up as Disney's 'Incredibles' complete with boots and masks (yes, I know i have an amazing and patient husband!! Trust me, I've heard it before!), I love the challenge of creating unique, fun costumes that get my kids excited. It was no surprise to our neighbors when last year, a family of 5 dalmatians came knocking on their door, shouting... "WOOF WOOF! Trick or Treat!" (yes all 5 of us... I know, I know... my husband is a saint.)

However, last year as I spent hour upon hour painting dalmatian spots on white sweatshirts, snacking on the Halloween candy we bought to hand out, I couldn't help but wonder if they wouldn't be just as happy with store bought costumes. All this work for a bag full of candy? (which to be perfectly honest, I don't need in the house anyway!)

But just last week, the kids were looking back through the scrapbook, and they saw the pictures from last Halloween. They were giggling about how they had pretended Cruella D'Eville was chasing us, and how much fun we had. (we even had to go back home to dump out our candy and start over!)

That was enough for me... I knew it was all worth it... the spots, the pantyhose transformed into 'spider's legs', and those darn 'makeshift' superhero boots made from a black shower curtain.

So this year, its back to the drawing board, bouncing ideas off each other, and watching movies for 'inspiration'. And if I eat a few too many Twix bars while we're figuring it out, I'll just plan for my costume to have an elastic waistband. ;-)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

It's the little things...

Isn't it true that its the little things that can help 'top off' our happiness tank? Those little gestures that mean the most? Whether its a phone call from a friend just at the right moment, or a picture on the fridge from your littlest Picasso...

My 'little thing' as of late is, of all things, an electric pencil sharpener. That stupid thing just makes me so damn happy... the hum of it as I sharpen 6 dozen pencils for back to school. (yes, the supply list actually specifies that they need to be 'sharpened'...what a pain!)

I've never had an electric pencil sharpener. Even when I was teaching, my classroom had the old 'crank' sharpener, with the trash can strategically placed underneath to catch all the shavings (because of course it was so friggin' old that the outer portion was missing... damn AISD...oops, that's a whole other blog...)

I've bought several of the little handheld pencil sharpeners, but the kids always seem to end up breaking or losing them. (or they might be in the junk drawer, but I'm too scared at this point to even open it!)

So when Phil brought home an electric pencil sharpener last week (complete with batteries!) out of the blue, I could have kissed him! (Oh wait, maybe I did! ;-) He knew sharpening all those pencils was going to drive me berserk, and he stepped up and did that one little thing to make me happy.

It was a simple gesture, but it was his way of letting me know that he hears me and appreciates the things I do, and wants to make my life just a little easier. Or maybe they were just on special at Office Depot ... either way, my pencil sharpener makes me happy.

It's the little things... heck, who needs flowers, or even poetry? I can write my own...with freshly sharpened pencil.

The night before the first day of school...

Step 1: Lay out the back to school outfits. Of course, they must all be color coordinated with each other for the back to school pictures that Mommy insists on taking. Lace the new shoes with the squeaky clean shoe laces (these should last all of about a 3 hours until recess time). Put out clean underwear (seriously... do you really think these kids can remember anything on their own?!)

Step 2: Have the kids clean their rooms. I don't know why that's such a sticking point with me, but we've let the bedrooms go to hell in a handbasket all summer, and its time to get back with the *program*. (the *program* being that if you don't get it clean, Mommy waits until you've gone to school and enters your room with a trash bag and the Handi-Vac). We even have special terminology for the program... "Is your room clean? Is it *Mommy* clean?"

Step 3: Label and pack the backpacks. Brand new backpacks! My favorite part of back to school... and if you could see how these backpacks look at the END of the year, you'd understand why I appreciate those fresh (non-sticky, non-stinky) new packs.

Step 4: Pack lunches in their new lunchboxes. Standard fare: ham sandwiches, Doritos, some type of fruit, cookies, and a juice box. Nothing fancy... they wouldn't eat it anyway.

Step 5: Early to bed... of course, the schedule went out the window this summer. The 'rule' is supposed to be that a couple of weeks before school starts, you should re-institute your bedtime routines. Oh well, I guess my kids will just be wondering why they're laying awake, with the sunlight still filtering in through their bedroom shades.

Step 6: Get to bed yourselves, Moms and Dads.... those kids will be up at the butt-crack of dawn, ready for their first day of school! Lord knows it will be the only day you will not have to fight with them about getting up and getting ready.