Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Don't read this, Stacy Holley.

Lest you think I’m a nutcase (or even nuttier than you already think I am), let me preface by saying that I *know* I will get used to this. Probably very soon.

But today? It was strange.

It was not your ordinary, average Wednesday. Okay, maybe for YOU, it was, but for me? It was a whole other animal.

It was the second day of school. Correction: It was the second day of kindergarten for my youngest child. Which makes it the first day of my ‘new normal’. Yesterday was a heady mix of anxiety, anticipation and excitement (followed by sheer exhaustion). A day of firsts, a day of Mexican martinis with friends at Chuy’s to celebrate, an evening of dinner out with the kids, followed by our ‘First Day of School’ cake, ending with baths and hugs and lots of forms to fill out for school. A good day, but it was the first day of school, so in my mind, it didn’t ‘count’.

Today counted.

And count I did… I counted the hours. Because today was my ‘new normal’. All three of my children are now school-age. They are all in elementary school. They are all gone from 7:30 until 2:45 everyday. And I am left feeling just a little bit lost.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a girl that can stay busy. Projects? I got ‘em. Friends? I call ‘em. Volunteer opportunities? I welcome ‘em (my husband, on the other hand? ;)

But after being home with at least one child for the last ten years, today was a little bittersweet. Phil asked me, “You *did* know that this was what would eventually happen, right?”

Well, duh.

Today found me showered, dressed, having walked the kids to school, and back home by… 7:45 a.m.?? “Okay,” I thought. “Time to get some things done around here…” Answer some emails, update my calendar, check CNN, start a load of laundry, clean the downstairs bathroom, Check CNN, make some calls, check CNN (you DO remember my CNN addiction, don’t you?), vacuum the family room, upload some pictures… I checked the clock to make sure I wasn’t going to be late to the lunch I scheduled with my girlfriends…

9:30 a.m.?? You CAN’T be serious.

I decided that I needed to get out of the house. So I got in the van and drove. To CVS because it was close to the restaurant where we were meeting, and I thought it improper to show up to lunch two hours early. And I went in, and wandered around. In CVS. People just don’t do that. People go to CVS for a specific purpose. For Q-tips or Benadryl...or a bottle of red wine (did you know they sell wine in CVS?!)

So, I wandered from aisle to aisle, and lingered in the ‘As Seen on TV’ aisle, debating the merits of a Shake Weight vs. a Slap Chop. (But what I really want is a ‘Perfect Brownie’ brownie cutter. My birthday is in December, BTW.)

I finally found myself in the aisle with the baby products. Bad move. I picked up a Johnson’s lavender-scented Baby Wash, and unscrewed the cap so that I could smell it. I’m embarrassed to admit that I even peeled the metallic paper wrapper off of the bottle to be able to *properly* sniff it. It smelled like I remembered my babies smelling, fresh out of a bath, and I had to quickly wipe my eyes before a young stock boy stumbled upon me, opening bottles and crying like some hormonally imbalanced crazy person in the aisle of the drugstore. Hey, now!

“Get a grip!” I thought, fiercely, replaced the bottle on the shelf, checked my watch, and made my way back out to my van, with only 30 minutes to kill before my lunch date. *sigh.

Right now, if you spent your entire day at work, you are ever so kindly telling me to shut the f**k up, and possibly to suck it up, and quite possibly, you’re thinking that I’m a whiny, ungrateful little brat who doesn’t appreciate being able to stay at home. That’s where you’d be wrong.

It’s just… different. Different in a good way, but most definitely different.

I know I will get used to having the house empty during the day, and having time to get a few chores and errands finished. Time to work on a project or two. I know I will come to love being able to schedule something (anything!) that requires more hours than the preschool day had… driving downtown, perhaps, to have lunch with my husband… or getting my hair colored (*that* is a long damn process, my friends.)

I’ll get there (probably next week), but right now, I’m in transition. I’m grieving my ‘old normal’ just a bit. The morning playdates, Elmo’s World, McDonald’s Happy Meals for lunch, the library in the middle of the day, and naptime.

My kids are growing up (faster than I’m ready for, most days)… and today was a marked reminder of that.

As if I needed reminding.

Monday, August 23, 2010

On the day before the first day of kindergarten...

On the day before the first day of kindergarten...

we got her outfit all ready.

On the day before the first day of kindergarten...

I baked cookies, made the 'First Day of School' cake, washed sheets, bought a few supplies we had forgotten, finished first day teacher gifts (I know, I know. It truly is an illness), and packed her backpack.

On the day before the first day of kindergarten...

I tried to get in extra snuggles.

On the day before the first day of kindergarten...

I gave her a shower, even though she squirmed and squealed, and reminded me in no uncertain terms that she had "a shower yesterday!!" (Hey, in the summertime, the chlorine in the pool keeps them plenty clean. ;)

On the day before the first day of kindergarten...

We read a few extra stories, and I felt a little nostalgic that after ten years of being at home with at least one child, that phase of life in our household has passed.

On the day before the first day of kindergarten...

I choked back tears more than once.

And my little angel... my youngest... my sweet baby who is on the threshold of a whole new adventure in her young life?

Well, on the day before the first day of kindergarten...

She channeled her inner Anna-Nicole Smith.

I hope kindergarten can survive her.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Take note...

If you have this on your bathroom counter to lacquer your teased-up 80's bangs (I've got my 20 year high school reunion coming up, and I'm thinking of going retro.)

Then I really do NOT recommend having this on your countertop, as well.

Trust me, those purples are waaaaaay closer in color than they show in the picture.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Her daddy is so proud...

Davis: "Libby, when you start kindergarten, you’ll learn lots of new stuff."

Libby: "I will?"

Davis: "Yep. You’ll learn to read… you’ll learn about plants… you’ll learn about the sun… oh, and the planets."

Libby: "I know the planets."

Davis: "No, you don’t!"

Libby: "Well, I know three…"

Davis (challenging): "Which ones?"

Libby (thinking hard): "Earth…


and Hoth."

Jeez. I can’t believe she didn’t even *mention* Alderaan. ;)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

One of *those* days.

Do you ever just have one of those days?

This morning I got up, determined to make pancakes for Davis, who had been nagging me for two solid days that he wanted pancakes for breakfast. And if not breakfast, then DEFINITELY lunch. Not frozen… and certainly NOT homemade chocolate chip pancakes (I made those a few days ago. What nerve I have!)… but ‘real’ pancakes.

I got everything ready to make said ‘real’ pancakes and realized that we were completely out of milk.

Disaster. Meltdown #1 of the day.

Later in the morning (after toast, fruit, and juice for breakfast), it was off to see a movie at the dollar cinema… ‘Karate Kid’. Which turned out to be a really good movie. And a really LOOONG movie. And about 20 minutes into the show, I remembered that I was scheduled to bring dinner to a friend who had recently had major surgery. And I had prepped nothing. N-O-T-H-I-N-G.

So as the movie dragged on (two hours and twenty minutes??), and I am cheering for someone to just finally win this Kung Fu tournament already… I got a text from my darling husband.

He was at the tire place, getting his tires replaced because he had screws in two of them, and they were slowly leaking air. So FOUR, count ‘em… FOUR new tires later, my head was splitting, and dollar signs were dancing through my vision. Backward and down the crapper. Cha-ching!

After the movie, I made a mad dash to H.E.B. to pick up the items to make dinner to deliver, and as I sped through the aisles, pulling stuff off of the shelves, all three kids jogging to keep up, I ran into a friend in the refrigerated section (not LITERALLY, for which I’m sure she is grateful). I stopped to chat for just a minute… and while we were talking, some guy walked by, pointed and said, “Excuse me, but those kids are going to kill each other.”

Um… what?? Which kids? What the heck was he talking about??

Oh, none other than… my children…who happened to be shutting each other inside the refrigerated section, and waving to one another from behind the glass doors like they were being defrosted while on display at a cryogenics lab.

Totally mortified, I quickly paid for my groceries, got everybody loaded up in the van, and went to back out of my parking space.


In my blind spot, sat a sedan who had zipped behind me to wait for a space on the opposite side of the lane to open up. And it couldn’t have been a beater… some crappy old car… Nope.

Had to be a Lexus.

Could this day GET any friggin’ better??

Practically in tears, I exchanged information with the other driver, called Phil, and assessed the damage. The highlight of it all? Trying to figure out how to take pictures with my cell phone in the blacktop parking lot of the grocery store when it’s 105 degrees outside.

And once at home, after getting dinner started, and realizing that I had forgotten to put an egg in the brownie mix (after the brownies had already been baking for 20 minutes, of course, so there was no salvaging them for my dinner delivery), I sat down at the table to call my insurance company. Never a fun activity, regardless of the circumstances.

Answering question after question, the lady on the phone got all the information she needed, and said, ‘I think that’s it, Mrs. Linson. I’m really glad everyone is okay.”

I mean, I KNOW she’s probably paid to say that… but I came undone just the teensiest bit. I began to cry, and I said, “Me too.”

And as I looked around at my wreck of a kitchen, my doomed eggless brownies, my cell phone loaded up with off-center pictures of damaged bumpers, and the bits of paper with scribbled insurance policy numbers… I realized that this, too, shall pass.

It was a minor fender bender, and I have insurance.

We now have four new tires on my husband’s car. We may be broke, but at least we’re safe.

I didn’t just have to have surgery.

I have kids that know how to... er... entertain themselves in the grocery store. ;)

And… I remembered the milk. So, tomorrow, I get to get up in the morning, make ‘real’ pancakes, and start over fresh.

Thank you, Lord, for days like today.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Get. Back. In. The. Car.

Let me just say… I love a good car game. I do.

‘The License Plate game’ can be educational. A little boring if you live smack dab in the middle of Texas, though.

‘Name that Animal’… VERY educational. (By the way, did you know that yaks make pink milk? You DID?)

Scavenger hunts… er… enthusiastic.

‘Slug Bug’? Well, I think we know my thoughts on that by now.

My nephew, though, recently taught my children a new car game. A game called… “Spot, Copper, Kidnapper”. The way it’s played is pretty straightforward. Spot a yellow vehicle (any yellow vehicle for that matter… school bus, yellow car, a DHL delivery truck) and be the first to yell out, ‘SPOT!’

Preferably as loudly as you can when sitting directly behind the driver’s seat. (at least that's the way *my* children play.)

And when you spy a police car? Or a sheriff’s deputy? Or anything that looks remotely ‘official’. And by ‘official’, you know I mean anything that makes Mommy slam on her brakes and look back through the rearview mirror while cursing under her breath? Yeah, those cars are known as…


Shout it out with me, would you?

And the last part of the game? Well, according to my nephew, those vehicles are easy to spot. Those are the ‘workmen vans’… the ones that contractors use that have no windows or doors on the sides… the delivery trucks, etc…. ‘kidnap vans’.

Yeah, yeah… not exactly politically correct. But my kids were instantly hooked, and the back of my mini-van has been host to many a game of ‘Spot, Copper, Kidnapper’ since my 9 year old nephew enlightened us.

No biggie… The game keeps them occupied, allows me to listen to my man, Charlie on KLBJ, in peace, and if they have an especially good eye, it’s my ‘heads-up’ to slow down so I don't get a speeding ticket. (Thanks, kids!)

What I *do* worry about is how the game sometimes carries over. You know… like to the parking lot.

At Home Depot…

And my kids are looking at all those repairmen’s vans like they’ve hit the motherlode (and bonus?? Sometimes there are actual people still IN the vans) ...

There’s nothing like three kids jumping up and down in the parking lot, pointing and shouting out, “KIDNAPPER!! KIDNAPPER!!” to make you long for a good old game of Slug Bug.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Lessons from an Ogre

If you have kids, you know you’ve done it.

Nooooo… not that. Geez.

You’ve reminisced about ‘life before kids’. Romanticized the ‘good ol days’ before you were woken up early every morning. Before the house was in a constant state of disarray. The days when you could stay up… or out… as late as you wanted without the mental ‘cha-ching’ of the cost of the babysitter scrolling through your mind.

The days when you could eat a piece of chocolate cake… without giving anyone ‘Just. One. More. Bite.’

I’ve done it. I’ve remembered fondly the days when I lived alone, in my little apartment that was MINE, MINE, MINE! That tiny little box with a futon and clothes all over the floor of my bedroom and a refrigerator that was a toxic waste dump, and a television that wasn’t blaring the Disney channel at record volume.

So, if you have kids, and if you’ve seen the movie, Shrek Forever After, you ‘get’ it.

**SPOILER ALERT** In this movie, (the 4th in the series), Shrek makes an almost disastrous wish to have just one more day of his old life. One day back before the responsibilities… the noise… the chaos that comes with being a parent… a spouse… a grown-up, I guess.

And, much like each of us, I suspect, he comes to the conclusion that he loves his life, messy ogre babies and all, and wouldn’t change it for the world.

A good reminder that even when life gets challenging, most of us would choose our OWN life... our own messy ogre babies... our own swamp... and our own issues, time and again.

I know I would.

After the movie (and YES, I teared up a little. It wouldn’t be an animated movie if I didn’t get choked up), I was explaining to the kids that even when life gets hard as a Mommy and Daddy, that we wouldn’t wish to have our old lives back.

Me: And sometimes we get upset or frustrated, but we have chosen the life we have for reason, and we wouldn’t trade our lives with you guys for ANYTHING!

Libby (dubiously): ‘You wouldn’t even trade us for a flat screen T.V.?’

Oh. Well, a FLAT screen… that’s another story. ;)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Et tu?

I had good intentions. Really.

I know, I know. Yesterday’s blog started the same way, but what can I say?

I hope the old saying’s not true… ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions.’ If it is, maybe I can at least catch a ride in a handbasket.

When school got out for the summer, we had big plans to… Read! Visit the library! Practice flashcards! Take mini field trips! Go to the Bob Bullock museum! Swim! Practice our multiplication tables! See movies! Collect fossils at Shoal Creek!

Of that list, the only one that we did on a consistent basis was… SWIM! Oh yes, swim team overtook our lives, and our psyches, and our laundry schedule (oh, the towels…), and before we knew it, there were three weeks left of summer. Just enough time to buy school supplies, and lament over the fact that summer had flown so quickly. Because it did.

And I admit… I will be the mom that sends her kids back to school with the previous school year’s learning completely erased from their little brains. It couldn’t be helped. But I know I’m not the only mom out there that suffers from this fate… what is it about summertime that begs of us to float on pool noodles, eat ice pops while we stand directly in front of an open freezer, and eschew all things academic?

Just yesterday, though, I was at the pool (floating on a noodle… I *do* love those things), and I struck up a conversation with another mother. A mother who, while perfectly nice, happened to mention that her children get up early every morning in the summer to study Latin.


Oh, you didn’t catch that?

I said, ‘LATIN’.

Talk about being ‘out-mommed’. Out-everythinged, actually. The only comeback I could muster?

“Latin? Wow. I think Phineas and Ferb occasionally use Latin phrases…”
(weak chuckle…)
(VERY weak chuckle…)


Perhaps I’ll be allowed a snack in the handbasket. ;)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Game on! Or not...

I had good intentions. Really.

A nice wholesome family card game before dinner. Just a quick little game (the back of the box promised 15 minutes) while we waited for the water to boil for the pasta, and the garlic bread to bake.

Who knew it would all go so disastrously?

I guess the name of the game COULD have clued me in.

“You Gotta Be Kidding!”
... which is eerily similar to one of Phil’s favorite exclamations… ‘You’ve GOT to be freaking kidding me!’ The source of which is usually a dead car battery, a broken pipe… or… um… lightning striking our house, rendering our computer, alarm system, garage door opener, sprinkler system and television KAPUT. That phrase has preceded a couple of insurance claims.

So… not good.

But this game? This family card game boasts on the back of the box… and I quote:

’You Gotta Be Kidding!’ gets kids and grown-ups thinking, laughing, reasoning and having a blast making goofy decisions. Best of all, kids have fun speaking up for a change, instead of always saying ‘I don’t know.’ Watch imagination rule and confidence build as kids get comfortable standing up for their choice while laughing the whole time.”

Laughter? Reasoning?? Imagination? Confidence?? You had me at ‘Reasoning’, Mr. Copywriter.

It’s a game of ‘Would you rather…’ And then each player tries to guess what the reader would choose. The example on the box (maybe I relied too much on this box?) was pretty innocuous.

Would you rather… Eat a bucket of apple stems


Eat twenty banana peels?

A little icky, perhaps. But still worth some thought, and a chuckle. All in good fun. Sooo the first question out of the box…

As a stuntman, would you rather jump off a cliff into water with a blindfold on…


Jump from a cliff twice as high, but without the blindfold?

(Feel free to think about that one… )

And then… it got dicey. Question 2:

Would you rather always have a fly frozen into each of your ice cubes when you drink something cold?


Drink out of an unwashed tuna can?


And then?

Would you rather spread nose pickings over your cereal?


Spread the skin from a bunch of popped blisters over your cereal?

You have GOT to be freaking kidding me! Who the heck comes up with this stuff?? Pre-pubescent boys?? At this point in the game, my appetite has quickly diminished, as each of my children shouts out, in turn, ‘Boogers!’ or ‘Blisters!’ And Phil? Well, he was no help. He just joked we could change the name of the game to ‘The Diet Game’.

And then it was Davis’s turn. The question he chose?

Would you rather drink a small cup of the liquid from a huge blister?


Eat a salad covered with Bits of Scabs?

That did it. The spaghetti and salad that I’d made for dinner suddenly didn’t look all that tasty. And I considered writing to the Zobmondo game company to talk to them about complying with the ‘Truth in Advertising' laws.

I had good intentions. Really. Turns out that while the idea of a card game before dinner sounded good, in THEORY… it has since become a question of:

Would you rather your Mom be honest with you and actually admit that she has thrown out your new favorite card game?


Just have her pretend that it accidentally got knocked off the counter into the trash can and covered with old issues of Southern Living magazine?

Whoa. Tough call.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Gotta leggo control...

I can tell it's close to summer's end, because my Lego aversion is rearing its ugly head.

Ah, Legos...

I loved playing with them when I was a kid. I would build all kinds of things that looked like... well, like multi-colored brick boxes. Hey, I didn't say I built very CREATIVELY with them, just that I *did* build with them.

I think they CAN be wonderful learning tools. They can spark the imagination, and my son can spend hours building space ships and army platoons and railroads and tanks and racecars and... the list goes on and on.

And EVERY TIME he builds something new, he brings it to me to explain (often in excruciating detail) exactly how he made it.

And that he wants me to take a picture of it. And another of him holding it. And just ONE more 'from this angle'. I have an entire folder on the computer that is devoted to pictures of his Lego creations.

And those expensive Lego sets that come with the ridiculously detailed directions that would take me six weeks and a bottle of gin to finish? Well, the first time Davis built one, it took him about an hour. I was so impressed that I offered to glue the whole thing together piece by piece with Super Glue, so that he could play with it without worrying that it would come apart.

Wasn't that so thoughtful of me?? Yeah, I thought so, too.

Huge waste of my time and Super Glue, I discovered. Because while he LOVES the expensive sets, and loves building them... he also loves taking them apart.

I'm always cringing when I see that he has disassembled that $60 (oh yes... you must not have priced Star Wars Lego sets recently!) Starfighter that he spent a Saturday afternoon building.

The organization junkie in me has tried labeling Rubbermaid containers for the different sets... tried to encourage him to keep the pieces together... tried to not be driven to the edge of insanity by all the Legos I discover that look like it 'could potentially be the ship's control panel' or 'the arm of a Clone Trooper'...

I've given up.

Turns out, he enjoys making his own Lego creations even more than the packaged sets. (He still wants all the fancy pieces that come in the kits, mind you!)

I just keep telling myself that someday he'll probably be a structural engineer. And that when I step on them, or find them in the guinea pig cage,or they get stuck in the vacuum cleaner, that this...

will all be worth it. ;)