Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sit. Bark. Beg.

My kids are picky eaters. Super picky. While making dinner tonight, Kyle could wait no longer. He grabbed the Pup-Peroni dog treats and started eating them. He's done this before and of course we've said that it is gross. We tried to explain that the meat in dog treats aren't meant for little boys. He doesn't care. He loves them. We then bought him some real beef sticks to eat instead. They are harder to chew and he didn't care for the texture. He just loves Pup-Peroni.

So, I was checking out their website to see what was in the treats. It reads:

With hearty beef taste and a mouthwatering aroma, it's no wonder dogs (or your small child) simply can't resist our Original Beef Flavor. Don't forget to take a package along so you can treat your pup (or small child) wherever you pal around!

Guaranteed Analysis

Crude Protein
24.0% Min.
Crude Fat
12.0% Min.
Crude Fiber
2.0% Max.
24.0% Max.
IngredientsBeef, Meat By-Products (This is the part that scares me), Soy Grits, Sugar, Liver, Salt, Propylene Glycol, Garlic Powder, Caramel Color, Natural Smoke Flavor, Potassium Sorbate (used as a preservative),Sodium Nitrite (for color retention), Red 40, BHA (used as a preservative), Onion Extract.

Feeding Instructions: Feed as a snack. (Before dinner, if you food is not ready and your child is staaaaaarving.)

I know most people have eaten a dog treat or two in their childhood. I haven't but I can name a few relatives (not naming names here). I won't even try the treats that Kyle keeps eating. Kyle isn't just nibbling. He is grubbing. He loves them. With the economy as bad as it it, maybe Pup-Peroni could expand their market to include picky children. Or, I can use the treats as incentives for Kyle to clean up his room or practice his speech therapy homework. Kyle is 4 so how old does that make him in "dog years?" And yes, you better believe I will print this out and make sure he receives a copy of this when he gets older.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Not A Soccer Mommy But Have To Be

I am so not a soccer mom. I am by definition but I am so not good at it. Ryan played on Saturday and a coach's wife came over to sit with me. "What's the score?" Hmmm. Good question. Wasn't even paying attention at all. Hmmm. Should I guess? Lie? Hmmmm. "We've scored a lot of goals." That's how I handled it. She was happy and she didn't ask anything else. If my son isn't playing, I am pretty much in la la land. I just enjoy the sunshine, weather and I people watch. That's how I get through an hour of practice and an hour of soccer a week.

I am also bad at preparing for the weather. When Ry was a little kid, soccer was canceled at the first sprinkle. Now, even during a downpour, games are played. It is a lot to remember. You have to have large umbrellas for the games. If you have a little one and you sit down, you will get soaked. It has to be a golf umbrella. You have to bring a jacket no matter what the weather. You think you know what the weather is like when you leave the house. It somehow changes when you are on the field. I have yet been able to get the clothing right for a game. Last week, it felt chilly. I wore a sweater (I am always cold) and a long sleeve shirt. People were there in shorts. I was sweating and shaking my head that I somehow messed up again on the clothing.

The snacks are also a problem for this soccer mom. My coach has not organized a list. This may sound great to some of you. It is not. No one one knows who is bringing the snacks. I don't feel that my child will starve without one. He is so darn picky that he only eats about 1 in 5 snacks offered at the field. My problem is that every week I am worried that it is my turn. I leave the snacks in the van just in case. But, every week someone else brings them to the field. What a pain. Just give me a date and get it over with.

My husband played soccer until he graduated from college. There are a lot of soccer games in my future. With two boys, I know there will be a lot of sporting events in my life. This is our first attempt at real sports. They have real uniforms. They are playing real soccer. And I am turning into a real soccer mom.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I'll Finish This Post Later

On my counter top sits thank you notes. They are from my son's birthday party that was held on August 23rd. They have been written for weeks. Most have been signed by my six year old. That was no easy task. I have bought stamps. I have yet to address them. You'd think it was such a horrible task to do. I can think of much worse. But there they sit and have sat for about two weeks now. I moved them for the weekend babysitters into my ginormous pile but they are back now to their resting spot. And instead of address them, I am writing this silly post. I pretend I am so busy but I did practice piano earlier today so you know I'm lying.

What else have I been meaning to do? I have to make an appointment with a specialist for Kyle. It would take more time to call a friend. I made notes in my date book reminding me to make this call. I even made a sign that hangs in my kitchen. I keep putting it off. Why not just make the darn call and get it over? I have no idea what my problem is.

When I was a student I would thrive on deadlines. I was a communications major and somehow I thought I was more like a journalist if I would wait until the last minute, work late into the night and turn it in. I wasn't any better as a high school student. I procrastinated with every project.

So, I am trying something a little different with my children. My son had a lot of homework to do this week. He is a kindergartner and he has a different worksheet to do each night. They all came on Monday and are due on Friday. He wanted to know why he had to do one page a night. If he could only understand what I am trying to teach him. I remember the tears as a child being so tired the night before homework was due and begging not to do it. My son still has the tears and is begging me not to do his work. But as a mother, I can't imagine it any other way.

I will lead by example. I will at least work on addressing five of my envelopes before bed. I will make myself send five a day. I will make that doctor's appointment before I pick Kyle up for school tomorrow. I will help Ryan with yet another worksheet after school tomorrow. We'll get it all done. We'll just do a little bit a day so there are no tears.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

More Time Than Money

My friends and I were at a surprise birthday for one of our friends on Friday. As a conversation starter, someone asked "Who's watching the kids?" I told them it was Lisa, a friend of ours. I am in a babysitting co-op and we take turns watching each other's kids. I have only paid for a babysitter twice in my life. I go out a lot and leave my children with sitters often. I have more time than money so it is perfect for me and my family. The best part is that if any emergency comes up, I know that I have 25 women to call for help. I also feel safe knowing that all of my friends know the sitters. We know each other and I have sat for them. I never have to worry about whether my sitter can handle an emergency. They have real life experience as moms and they can handle anything.

When I have written in the past about my babysitting co-op, some people have said that they wish they had a babysitting co-op. There is no reason why you can't start one. You may think you are too busy. I just squeeze it in. I have the children here to play with my kids during the day. My kids think it is a play date. I then pick certain Saturdays when I really need hours. One Saturday every couple of months helps to keep your babysitting hours up in your "bank." It really doesn't take a lot of time.

Here are some tips to get started.

Step 1. Send out an email to all of your friends asking them to come to your house one evening for a meeting.

Step 2. Ask the friends who have said they are coming, tell them to bring at least one friend.

Step 3. Have your friends bring their calender. Ask that each person schedule at least one sit. Also have them schedule a monthly meeting day. We meet on the third Tuesday of the month. Ask your members what works for them.

Step 4. As the head of your new babysitting co-op, create a folder to keep track of the hours. Have each person that babysits email you when they have sat. Email me and I will share information about how to break down the hours. If you have one child, it is one hour per child. If you have two children, it is 1.5 hours per actual hour. It get confusing without the chart. Email me and I will email it right out to you.

Step 5. Treat your hubby with a date night with FREE babysitting. Once you go out, your husband will be sold on the idea. Free is good.

Step 6. Take that first step to start your own co-op. I can't imagine my life without one. In fact, I am in two. Yes, two. When I run out of hours, I use the other. So in fact, I have about 50 women that I rely on each month.

At our last meeting, we had a woman trying to get her child from school, to dance lessons and then somewhere else. She had a day where it just wouldn't work to be at all places at once. I said "It takes a village to raise our children." In reality for me, it takes a co-op or two.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Busy Doing a Lot of Nothin'

I saw a friend I hadn't seen in awhile. She asked what was new. There is a lot going on in my life. Not much of it is new. We were at a party. The music was screaming loud. What could I really yell over the music that would make sense? Imagine me yelling over the music "My son started kindergarten a few weeks ago." "We are drywalling our basement." "We received some new office furniture from my husband's company." That wouldn't make much sense and she probably wouldn't hear me so I just said, "Nothing new."

She then went on to suggest some activities for me. She must have assumed I was bored. She suggested that I start selling items on EBay. Hmmm. Tried that. I do it now and then. Check. Got that taken care of. She then went on to suggest some more hobbies. Hmmmm. I must really seem bored (or boring). I think this lady is a stay-at-home mom too. She must understand how you can stay busy all day and not really have much to talk about. She must know.

After the party, my mind (as it always does) works overtime. I am pretty busy for a stay-at-home mom. I don't have much energy to add anything new to my life right now. But, maybe I need to work on my party conversation skills. I could add that to my list of things to work on. I will add that right to my list of making my hair appointment, playing with my sons, making lunches, cleaning up the toys, date nights with the hubby, phone calls with my sisters, visiting my parents and in-laws, writing this blog, reading as many blogs as I can get to, putting my photos in albums, organizing my jewelry box, trips to parks, making dinner and organizing my spices. Right, I will add party conversation skills to my list.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Years of Practice

I was not a good piano student. I never practiced. Well, maybe the day before the lesson. In fact, I was so bad at practicing, I became a great sight reader. I could play whatever my teacher put in front of me for the week. The only problem was that I never got any better at the piece because I didn't practice. I took lessons for at least 12 years. Without practicing, you can't really learn to play.

I ran into my piano teacher when my children were babies. Standing in Walmart while trying to keep track of my two year-old and keep my baby quiet, she asked me if I still played the piano. I almost laughed in her face. Practice? I didn't practice when I had weekly lessons. I have two babies here. I can barely shower and I never sit down. Sit down to practice a piano? Are you nuts? I don't even own a piano. You see, I quit my job, we bought a house we can barely afford, my husband left the firm to work in house and now we have two kids. I can't even afford a piano. So no piano teacher, I don't still play the piano.

I didn't say that but I swear I thought it. She was so sweet when I said no. I felt so guilty.

Skip ahead until last November. I came up with a plan to buy a used piano. I wanted my sons to take piano lessons. I had to have a piano. I would take some birthday money from my parents, sell some large ticket toy items on EBay and buy a used piano off of Craig's List or EBay. My husband thought I was losing it. Who buys a piano off of EBay? I did. Sight unseen. Yep.

Guess what else I bought two weeks ago? My old brand of piano books that I had growing up. I am learning to play piano all over again. I was shocked at how much I remember. I guess I must have practiced at some point. Even if my piano teacher made me play the song 14 times in my 1/2 hour lesson, it must have sunk in because I can play it now.

So Miriam, my old piano teacher, it has taken me years to get here. But, I am finally practicing my piano.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Have To Tell Someone

When I was in fifth grade, one of my best friends told me a secret. It was a secret that I knew that I couldn't keep to myself. Nanette told me that was being molested by her father. She told me that her dad was touching her. I didn't talk to my parents about it. I didn't tell anyone at first except my teacher. When I told Mrs. Ruff, I remember the look of horror on her face. She believed me and the school moved quickly. I often wonder what happened to her and how her life turned out. I do remember that her parents divorced. The secret stayed pretty much a secret and her life went on.

I had to tell someone. I feel the same way about an Oprah episode that I watched yesterday. Oprah is passionate about child predators. She is a survivor herself of a molester. On her show, she had brave young girls talk about what is what like to be sexually molested. They were so strong and brave as they shared their stories.

On the show, they also showed how molesters are creating information systems online to share with other molesters. One of the most horrific things is that molesters are teaching others how to molest children of all ages including a baby. Yes, a baby. The molesters are also creating Internet systems where they are raping children on live video on the Internet for their viewers. Imagine a sort of You Tube for molesters. It went on and on. I became more angry and sick as I watched.

So what can we do? The first thing they reminded viewers is that the people "on the Internet" are your neighbors, realtives, people at church, friends you see at soccer and people in your community. Molesters are everywhere. You have to second guess everyone around your children. Everyone.

Women all over the world are blogging. We are on the Internet too. We must rise up as mothers and protect our children. Demand that our senators protect our children. Help pass the the Protect Our Children Act called Senate Bill 1738. It is BIPARTISAN bill. How to do this? Visit Oprah's site. It will lead you to your senators. You can send a prepared email. You can write your own letter. You can send a letter. You can call. We have to move quick. Senate will be adjourning for the rest of the year in a couple of weeks. You must act quickly to send your message.

You have to do something just like I did for Nanette. Somewhere in your neighborhood tonight, a dad will walk down the hall with his video camera and do unspeakable things to his little girl. You have to tell someone. Tell Congress to fund this bill.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Passing It Along

After a long day, I went to my mailbox with my two boys. One was excited to tell me about his day at school and the other, I don't think he stopped talking the entire day. As I opened my mailbox, I found an envelope. On it said "I'm Not Talking About It, I'm Just Saying.... thought you could use these. " Boy could I.

Inside the envelope were coupons for FREE chocolate chip cookies and chocolate bars. Yummmmmmm! I think I know which reader sent them to me. Thank you! Thank you for putting a smile on my face and making my day.

I have to be honest, the cookies that I wrote about it in my last post sat in my van all morning while I ran errands. I had two places to drop them off. Both had some major things happen this week in their lives. One person I knew really well and one that I just knew from around. I dropped the cookies and card off to the person I knew well. I then made countless excuses why I should just drop off the card instead of with the cookies. Was I going a little over the top with them? What if my cookies weren't good? What if I didn't have enough in the container? Was my bag too ratty? Will she think I am dork? She found the cookies on the porch and called right away. She really appreciated the thoughtfulness. I was afraid of taking the risk.

So the refrigerator is cleared off for now. For now, I am caught up on my good intentions. I'll keep passing it along and hope you will too.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My Kind of Service

I volunteered a lot in college. I helped two people learn to read. I was also a mentor for a program like the Big Brothers and Big Sisters organization for years. I also volunteered at a Domestic Violence Shelter. I dabbled here and there as much as could.

Since I have had kids, I haven't had the time to volunteer like I used to. I am in a preschool PTA and I have put my time in on the board. I have spent countless hours working on various committees. I have also served on the board for our preschool. I know other people call this volunteering. It is one type of volunteering but I do it more for me that the organization. It keeps me sane.

I sat through a sermon a couple of months ago. One of our co-pastors was talking about the Good Samaritin. I started to think about how I used to volunteer and then I started to feel guilty that I wasn't more help to the world. Why can't I be less selfish? Why can't I be more like Mother Teresa?

But his message was amazing. So amazing that I just have to share it. It haunts me daily. He said that you don't have to go downtown to the food kitchens. You don't have to go to another country to help others. You don't have to move mountains. It is great if you do. But, we miss opportunities all around us to serve.

The need is everywhere around you. Someone you know is lonely. Someone you know has someone dying in their family. Someone you know has cancer. Someone you know needs to talk. Someone you know could use a dinner. Someone you know might be struggling financially. Someone you know is depressed. Someone you know just had a baby and needs some help. He said you could do everything God wants you to right where you are. You don't have to save the world. Just take care of the people around you.

As I sat there, I made a promise to myself. I would no longer just have good intentions. Any time there was an intention, I would follow through with it. To keep this promise, I make HUGE NOTES on my refrigerator. I don't allow myself to take them down until I take care of it. The note drives me crazy enough that it really motivates me to follow through.

Are you good at following through on your intentions? I am getting better. In fact, I have a huge note on my counter right now to make someone some cookies. That, I can do.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

All Talk

Disclaimer: I will not tell anyone who this is about no matter how much you beg. I hope you will understand that I must be private about it.

Today I had someone say something to me that was so hurtful. It brought tears to my eyes and made my stomach sick. I always wish that I was quicker with my responses back to people. It is probably better that I am not.

The Mean Confrontation:

How dare you say this to me? You think you know me. You have no idea. You see me for maybe 5 minutes a day. You only know what you see. How dare you judge me? How dare you say it to my face and not think it would hurt me? If you have a real problem with me, discuss it with me. Don't just slam me and laugh it off. It hurt. I am not laughing. You've said it to me in a different way before but today, you said it in front of someone else. I didn't look like the fool. You did.

The Personal Confrontation:

When I was a child, old ladies would say this comment to my family. It hurt. When you say this, it does not make me want to change. If anything, I will become more like what you dislike and felt the need to say. Why did you say this? Would you like to be treated like this? How would this make you feel? I almost cried on the way home. It made me feel like an awful person and mother.

The Six Year Old Response:

I am going to ignore her and be cold. I will carry this grudge for years and never be her real friend.

The High School Approach:

I will talk about this with her friends and hope that it gets back to her. I hope it makes her feel awful. She'll never say it again. Maybe.

The Blogger Approach:

Write about it until you feel better. Worry that she will read this. Get over it when you read the nice comments.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Throwing Stones

I try not to judge other mothers. Well...I judge them. I just try to not talk about it. But, I am going to do some judging here so hold on.

My husband and I went to see Tropic Thunder. It is a comedy with Jack Black, Ben Stiller and Robert Downey Jr. The movie is about three actors filming a Vietnam War movie. It is a comedy and it is rated R. It's website states that it is rated R because of pervasive language including sexual references, violent content and drug references. Because of the Vietnam War theme, there was A LOT of violence. There were a lot of "F bombs" and a whole lot of swearing was going on. Since it is an adult movie and I am an adult, no problem. I knew what I was seeing and my husband really wanted to see this movie. I love the actors so I was all for it.

Right before the movie started a nice normal looking couple walks in with their five year old. Yes, into an R rated movie. As they were walking past me to their seat, the movie started with really offensive language. So offensive that I can't write about it here. They had their warning that it was going to be bad and they stayed. As I sat there, I started to think that maybe the little boy would sleep. Maybe I was being oversensitive. But no, during the movie, I heard him make some noise and he was wide awake when he walked out.

I was so irritated that it kept me from enjoying the movie. I was cringing for this child. As the lights came up at the end of the movie, I saw another set of normal looking parents sat with their 9 and 7 year old boys in the row in front of me. I had no idea that they were there until the movie was over. I probably would have embarrassed my husband so I am glad that I didn't see them until we left.

I can see taking an older child to an educational movie where you will discuss and there will be a moment to learn from. I could see taking an older child to Blood Diamond, Hotel Rwanda or Schindler's List. Tropic Thunder is pure comedy. People went there to laugh, not learn. I cannot think of one reason why these people brought their young children to this movie.

So, I am doing some judging here. I am judging the parents who first made a bad choice to walk into that movie. They made a bad choice to stay. They crossed a line that no child should cross at age 5. I think Cinemark should not allow a child into this sort of movie. I know the ratings are in place. I don't think it is effective. Nothing positive comes from a five year old seeing this movie. If parents can't make responsible decisions when choosing movies, maybe the movie companies should put some policies in place to help them in their decision. I know they won't do that but I am just saying.

So, I am throwing stones. I don't do it often but today, it had to be done.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Getting What I Deserve

I went home to visit my parents yesterday. It was a hot, hot day for Ohio. As I was driving the hour home, I started to wonder if my air was broken in my van. I never have it on full blast but I did yesterday. It stayed on high the whole way home. I decided it was working, just having trouble keeping up with the heat. It was 91 degree outside. Thank goodness if was working.

When I got home, I noticed that I forgot to turn the air down so my house would be cooler in the evening. Dang it. My kids are pretty fussy when it comes to heat (and a lot of other things). So, I was annoyed at myself. The house would never cool by bedtime. I started to make dinner (with the oven) and noticed that the house was getting unbearable. We have tons of windows and the house just bakes in the afternoon sun. I kept checking the thermostat. 76, 79, 80, 81, 82, what? It wasn't going down, but up. Our air conditioning in our house is broken. Double dang it.

I totally deserve this. I wrote this post on September 2:

I am always cold. Even in the summer, it is not uncommon to find me wearing my slippers and a sweatshirt. I prefer no air conditioning. But, unfortunately, I have lost that battle with my husband and kids. So, air conditioning it is.

I got what I deserved this time. In the past, I had a few instances where I had written a post and something good happened right afterwards. I called them blogging miracles. I should have known this would happen when I wrote about the air conditioning. Do you any superstitions that you won't talk about for fear they will come true? I never brag how long it has been since my kid has had a cold. (Note to self, use Purell tonight when he comes off the bus). I also don't like to talk about my van and how well it has been running (Note to self, make appointment for routine check-up). Don't worry, comment sections are worry free areas of the post where nothing bad will happen if you write it. Cross your fingers.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Green With Envy

I see the men in my neighborhood look. I do. Their eyes catch mine as I walk up and down my lawn. I sometimes feel like I am on Desperate Housewives. Sometimes they wave. Sometimes they smile. Sometimes I get both. I wave back and say hello. If their wives only knew. I never see the wives. They are never outside and they are never doing what I am doing. Why am I getting so much attention? Is it because I am wearing something sexy? No. Is it because of my legs? No. Do you want to know why I am getting their attention? They can't believe I am mowing the lawn. Most of our neighbors have a lawn service. But for the few that mow their own, I have never seen another woman out there mowing the lawn. I think I would fall over if I did.

I could also be getting so much attention because of the sexy number I wear on my feet:

And if I am feeling really ambitious, I weed wack.

So ladies, if you want to feel like a million bucks in your neighborhood, start pushing the mower. You will certainly get the attention of the menfolk in your suburb. Or at least your one and only will be thrilled that you mowed the lawn.


Note: Kyle, age 4, was so excited to be allowed to use our new camera to take these shots. Of the shots he took, I was headless more often that not.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Letting Summer Go

I am always cold. Even in the summer, it is not uncommon to find me wearing my slippers and a sweatshirt. I prefer no air conditioning. But, unfortunately, I have lost that battle with my husband and kids. So, air conditioning it is.

I love the heat. I love everything about summer. There is one thing that I hate. The end. I start to get depressed just knowing that the end is near. When I worked at a college, I was lucky because the end of summer meant that it was going to get crazy at my job. Crazy! Students moved back to campus. My phone rang off the hook and I was gearing up for the start of classes. As a SAHM, we are back to school but it just isn't the same. The adrenaline doesn't flow so I am back to being a little depressed that the days are getting a little shorter and the leaves are starting to turn on some trees. In an Indigo Girls song called "Mystery", one of my favorite lyrics is "The summer is beginning to give up her fight." It is so true. This is the time of year when summer begins to say goodbye and fall sneaks in.

So this weekend, I soaked up as much summer as I could. I sat outside on the deck boat watching as much as I could. I got into the ice cold swimming pool because it was probably my last chance for the year and my son begged me. I took my time walking my dog so I could look at the stars on a crystal clear night. We spent the last weekend at the peaceful, Catawba Island near Sandusky, Ohio. We are lucky enough to be able to mooch weekends at a condo that Mike's parents own. We try to get up there as often as we can. This weekend we took the kids on the boat, jet ski and to Cedar Point. We had a wonderful time with Mike's parents and the kids enjoyed every second.

So goodbye sweet summer. You are my favorite. I will enjoy the others but you will be the one I am dreaming about on a cold snowy February in Ohio. Go ahead and give in summer. Give up the fight. It will soon be time. Let go. I am ready. I have my sweatshirt and slippers ready.

I'm Not Talking About It, I'm Just Saying...