mommyverbs

Engaging Each Day with Action Words

Make. — Mexicali Soup for the Tired Working Momma’s Soul.

mexicali bowl

I’m discovering today that….

All I really need to know… about being a Tired Working Momma…

…I could have learned from a favorite childhood book, called Mexicali Soup.

So, I’m thinking about creating a new MommyVerbs series for you:

Mexicali Soup for the Tired Working Momma’s Soul.

Mexicali Soup was my favorite book growing up.

I’m not sure I can tell you exactly why. It might have been the pictures and the story. Or maybe it was because of the way my Momma read it to me. But I seem to recall liking it a lot, too, because it was long, so it stalled bedtime a little more.

Seems I might have been a lot like X and Y in that regard.

I hadn’t thought of this book in years, until my Momma mentioned it after I wrote a post about my X and the rocking chair.

And then. I couldn’t think of anything else. I couldn’t wait to get home and find this book. I knew I had just seen it…but where?

There it was, on the bookshelf, right where I placed it in a special spot, to make sure it was always safe and sound.

It was written by Kathryn Hitte and William D. Hayes,illustrated by Anne Rockwell. Printed n 1970.

mexicali cover

Mine is in three pieces. The front cover. All of the pages fortunately still nicely glued together. And the back cover with a Rosie the Robot sticker that I must have foolishly put on it years ago, before I knew what a treasure it was.

My mom looked it up online and discovered that the only copies available are selling for more than $75.00.

Of course, to me, it is priceless.

And now, speaks to me more than it did when I was a kid.

Because.

It is about a Momma.

It is about a Tired Working Momma.

It is about a Tired Working Momma who wants the best for her family.

It is about a Tired Working Momma who wants the best for her family which includes eating well, with the best, freshest ingredients.

mexicali veggies

It is about a Tired Working Momma who is trying to balance wants and needs.

It is about a Tired Working Momma who wants to help her family fit in.

It is about a Tired Working who also wants her family to understand that is okay to stand out.

It is about a Tired Working Momma who learns that she can’t please everyone all the time.

It is about a Tired Working Momma who teaches her family that if one by one, we leave out the spice of life, we are going to end up with a bowl full of lukewarm water.

Sure. It is easy if we leave everything out.

But it doesn’t taste very good.

And another important lesson …

If Momma stops humming…it usually means trouble.

Mexicali Momma

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Think. — A Lesson from a Walking Path

There is a little walking path in our neighborhood. It is a great path and it makes for easy family walks and great bike rides. It winds around houses and through an open field, passing a couple of gazebos on the way. It was one of the things that I loved about this house and neighborhood when we first moved in four years ago.

I’m a little embarrassed to say that it also can cause me some … shall we call it, angst? or maybe just some moments of … awareness … at times.

You see, this beautiful, simple little path goes right through our backyard. Well, it borders the property, follows the edge of our yard.  Lots of neighbors, and even other folks that are not our neighbors, walk along the path at the edge of our backyard.  I watch them walk by with their families, pushing strollers, dogs on leashes, talking with friends.

And as they walk, they look, they notice. And I can’t help but wonder if they are thinking things like:

“Wow, they need to cut their grass, or trim back their weeds.” Or. “Wow, Their kids can’t keep the toys and shovels in the sandbox, can they?!” Or. “Wow, Their deck could use some staining.”

When really, they are probably just going for a walk. Thinking about the nice weather or the blue skies or the cool mountain breezes. They probably only notice the state of our truly lovely backyard for a fleeting second, because most of us are walking around too busy thinking about our own stuff to really spend time noticing others.

And if they do notice, the truth is…that is what we all do. I think those same things when I walk by their houses. I notice their imperfections, too. But only for that same fleeting second and then I’m on to the next thoughts.

So yesterday, while I was outside cleaning up this same lovely backyard a little…the good intentioned, but neglected garden, the sandbox, pulling some weeds…I mentioned this random thought to Felix.

And then he did that thing he does with a simple question: “Why do you care what they think?”

Ugh.

Good question. Valid question. Thought-provoking question. (I hate that.)

Because I do. Because we all do. In one way or another. We all care about what other’s think. We just do. Even those that say they don’t, really do.

I have always cared what other people think. But…Pay attention here … This is important. It is not about any insecurities or low self esteem. It is not because of some ‘thin skin’ or misplaced value in other’s thoughts over my own. It is not just about what other people think about me or mine.

No. I genuinely care about what other people think. I’m curious about points of view. I try to understand people, what makes them tick, why they respond the way they do. I’m not empathic or anything, at least not officially. But I’m a good reader of people. I’m gifted at reading faces, body language, tone of voice. I pay attention to others. Maybe to a fault. Sometimes I can get so focused on managing the emotions of a room, that I can miss the moment.

I’ve always done this. Forever. Since I was a kid. I think I may have even done this when I was in the womb. I must have thought about this for the entire nine months because I was born with this little wrinkle above my nose. (A little wrinkle that says, “I’m a noticer. I’m a little bit of a fretter at times. I pay attention.”)  As a matter of fact, that’s how my Mom identified me in the hospital nursery. “Um…I’ll take the baby with the wrinkle above her nose.”

Caring about and noticing what other people think is both a blessing and a curse. I think it is part of what makes me a good friend. It helps make me an efficient professional development facilitator, which is part of my job. It is what makes me a good health coach. But it can also leave me with a little worry, a little fretting about other people’s thoughts and feelings.  It can lead to some over-thinking and hyper-awareness, which can be distracting and exhausting at times.

So, I’m letting this little walking path be yet another lesson in this life. As we pass by, let’s notice, but not judge. Let’s notice the good, not the bad. Let’s see the mess on the table as a sign of a good family meal instead of garbage left behind for a moment. Let’s see the toys underneath the swingset as a sign of neighborhood kids who know how to play outside and have a good time in the sandbox, instead of irresponsibility. Let’s see the too-high grass and weeds in the flowerbed as a sign of a family who is busy, probably with equal parts working and playing, instead of a sign of neglect.

In other words, …

path weeds

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Stuff. — Lessons Learned from a Failed Yard Sale.

I’m not really a good yard sale person. I like the yard sale. There are some great finds and good deals.  I think I like the idea of being a yard sale person. But I’m probably really more of a poser when it comes to the sales that take place in the yards.

I do get up early on Saturdays, so it is not about the sleeping-in-late thing. No, truth is: I just don’t feel a lot of motivation, nor do I have the time,  to get up and into my car and drive around to look at other folk’s … stuff.

Because. I have enough … stuff … of my own.

Even too much …  stuff.

Which is why we decided to have a, very uncharacteristic, yard sale of our own.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t do too much to prepare for this event. I went through closets and drawers and pulled out things that haven’t been worn or used in the past two years, or maybe four years. Alright, some things might have been more like 8 years.

It didn’t turn out the way we planned or expected. Good thing it turned out to be ok in the end.

We put up a couple of signs. And carried the goods down to our living room the night before.

And then.

It rained. I mean, poured rained. Thunder and lightning rained.

And my living room was full of … stuff.  And this … stuff  … stayed in my living room for a whole week. A Week. Seven days.

You know how I feel about clutter. And if you don’t, you should catch up and read that blog link there. Catch up.

To summarize: clutter makes me a little crazy.

But, I survived.

And the next week, we moved the … stuff… out to the driveway early on Saturday morning.

We had exactly six people stop by our yard sale. Six.

But I learned a few things along the way that I thought I might share with you.

Because that’s what I do here on MommyVerbs. I share. You are welcome.

So…here we go…Lessons Learned from a Failed Yard Sale.

1. Check the weather before you decide to hold a yard sale. Or. Check the weather before you drag a ton of … stuff… down to clutter up your living room for a whole week.

stuff

The stuff. The stuff that lived in my living room. For a week.

2. When carrying boxes out to the driveway, check to be sure there are not heavy objects piled between the piles of sheets. Things might slide out and land on your little toe. Heavy things. Heavy things that you are pretty sure break little toe bones.

This happened.

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Ok. I’m not sure it was really broken, but it was bleeding. It did hurt so bad that I thought I might throw up and I’m not sissy like that. On the plus side, I got out of carrying the rest of the…stuff…outside.

3. When your kids decide to ‘build’ a lemonade stand, the neighborhood kids will come. And when the neighborhood kids come over, you may very well be kidsitting all of the neighborhood kids for free for many, many hours. (Good thing I really like these neighborhood kids. Good thing they are good kids, too.)

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I really do love these neighborhood kids. They are good kids. But I’m watching them. Like Roz on Monsters, Inc. Always watching. Because one day, they are all going to be 15 and trouble. Together.

4. When your kids decide to ‘build’ a lemonade stand, they may make more money than the whole yard sale. Because they are cute. Yes, but that’s not why. It’s because they are ruthless, ruthless salespeople who nag and cajole and guilt people brilliantly into giving them money for lousy, sour lemonade that has been sitting out for too long. Brilliant.

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They made over $30 bucks at this little lemonade stand. Afterwards, I had to sit X and Y down and talk the biz with them. They had high labor costs due to the before mentioned multitude of neighborhood kids. They’ll need to work on that for next time.

5. Have alternate activities available for the times when no one is coming to your fail of a yard sale, to keep the multitude of neighborhood, profit-drinking kids occupied appropriately.

I'm serious. How can I make some money off of this Connect Four Savant of a kid?! Hit me up with your ideas!

I’m serious. How can I make some money off of this Connect Four Savant of a kid?! Hit me up with your ideas!

6. Most important lesson…We did sell a few things. But not really from the sale happening in the yard. Nope, we started taking pictures of some of the big ticket items and posted these on facebook. Then people called or texted or messaged and bought those items that were for sale. If only there were a market like that…some place where you could take a picture of an item, write up a little description of it, then post it online with a price for others to view and buy.  Hmmmm…I may be on to something here. Maybe I’ll ditch this whole full-time working Momma and part-time health coach and blogger gig and start up something that can help other failed, poser yard sellers.  Hmmm….maybe I’ll call it something like … Mommy’sList. What do you think? Kinda catchy, huh?! Stay tuned on this one…

And one final lesson learned this day:

Don’t schedule your annual family portraits on the same day as your yard sale. You and your kids will be tired. They might be pills. Cute ones, with cute smiles, but still pillish.

The Mighty Z-Fam, wilting a little on the photo shoot walk.

The Mighty Z-Fam, wilting a little on the photo shoot walk. Picture courtesy of FiftyCentLove Photography-who is awesome and pretends…and somehow makes us believe that we are not only superheroes…but also supermodels. 🙂 

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View. — The Big Picture is there…just beyond the willow trees.

All the way home, all eight hours of the drive, I was recounting what a nice vacation we had just enjoyed. Nice place. Quality time with family. Beautiful weather. Time with my ocean and sand between my toes.  As I looked down at the ton of souvenir sand that we were bringing back with us on the floorboards of my car, I wanted to try to make sure that I remembered all of the good times.

The rollercoasters. The crab legs. The fun adventures with friends at the cottage. Kayaking on the river. Catching weird (and creepy to think we were swimming with them!) creatures from the dock. The campfire. The beach. The waves. The sun. The sunrises. The birthdays. The family game nights. The laughs. The memories.

I kept trying to hold on to all of this…because I knew. I knew that as soon as we got home, it was going to get back to normal. Not that normal is bad.  I love my little slice of normal.

But… the rain was falling and I was starting to understand what people were saying about building arks and living in Seattle.  The dog was there and I was going to try to stay to true to my intentions of giving him the one millionth chance to bond and build some sort of relationship.  There was a ton of unpacking to do, even though I had brilliantly done all of the laundry before we left, so all of the clothes were coming home clean.  There were hungry kids with nothing in the refrigerator, requiring either a trip to the grocery store or a wild dose of creativity and resourcefulness. To make matters more frustrating, I had this nagging idea for a story. And even crazier than that, I randomly thought I could sit right down at the computer (which is so….super….slooooooow) and type out a best seller in mere minutes.  Yes, I somehow thought I could write this brilliant tale at the kitchen counter, between the calls for organic mac n’ cheese with a side of quinoa (see, I went with the creative option instead of the store) and milk (which we didn’t have) above the pleas  for multiple games of Connect Four.

And … as predicted and painfully obvious now, I started to feel overwhelmed.  The sound of the ocean waves were quickly fading away, being replaced with dog whines and  kiddo arguments over whose turn it was to watch a show. The scent of the salty air was overpowered by the burnt ‘curly rice’ that bubbled over onto the hot burner on the stove top. The sand between my toes that had been so magical just a few hours ago, was now underneath my feet on my kitchen floor and I realized I was reaching for the broom.

In a last ditch effort to hold onto the last bit of this vacation, I reached for the leash instead and headed outside in the drizzling rain.  As I turned left out of my driveway, the color in the sky caught my eye.  Yep,  a beautiful, vibrant, bright rainbow fell from the sky. Actually, the elusive and   squeal-producing double rainbow!

rainbow small

I took a deep breath and really stopped to take it in. I found myself looking up and over the willow trees that I love at the end of my driveway. My eyes continued along the long arched lines of “ROY. G. BIV” (You know: Red. Orange. Yellow. Green. Blue. Indigo. Violet.) and watched as the lines were … unbroken.

My breath caught just a little and I took a few steps back to see the whole, full, beautiful rainbow. Right over my house.

I wanted my camera to capture it, but was afraid that  if I walked away it might be gone.

So I ran.

Dragging the dog back to the house, I grabbed my phone, which usually doubles as my camera, and ran back outside. Down the driveway, out into the road.  Trying to hold a leash and an umbrella and capture the image forever.

I was getting so frustrated again, because no matter where I stood, no matter how many steps backwards I took, I realized that I could never get the distance from this amazing sight in order to see the whole thing as I wanted.  And in that frustration, I decided to resign myself to the fact that it was too big, too amazing, too monumental to be captured in one frame. It just wasn’t meant to be. Just as I was letting that idea go…

I remembered that panaramic option on my phone.  Multiple frames.  Pieced together. To allow me to see and capture the whole of the rainbow.

Right over my house. Almost spotlighting my little world.

It was probably one of the most amazing images I’ve seen in a while.  I’m sure it means something. I just haven’t had a chance to completely comprehend what that something is.

But I know this. It made me stop. I took a deep breath.

And recognized once again… that perspective is everything.

Sometimes we have to change our vantage points. We have to step outside. Stop trying to force things to happen when the timing is off.  Trust that the right time will come. Get away from our frustrations and negative places.

To see the big picture.

Take a step back.

And look at it again.

rainbow

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Bark. — I don’t really like my dog.

I know. I know. It is terrible. I feel just awful about it and hate even putting those words together in a sentence.

But please don’t judge me. Hear me out first.

I’m a dog person. I am. I have always had a dog in my life. Except for that one time that I had a cat. And while little Misty was sweet, we just didn’t get each other.

So, it has always been dogs for me.

Until now.

Maybe it is because our relationship began out of desperation. Maybe it is because I have expectations that are too high. Maybe it is because my life is just too hectic and busy. Maybe it is because our personalities just don’t match.

Whatever it is, all I know is that this has been hard.

And as hard as the past year has been, I can be certain that I have cried more about this dog than I have about the other hard things.

I have prayed just as much about this dog as I have about the other hard things.

I have even had nightmares about this dog.

One time, I dreamed that we all went for a casual walk in the woods. When all of a sudden, a huge black bear appeared and gobbled the dog up in one bite. I was just standing there, mouth hanging open, not knowing what to do next, holding a leash in my hand, as a big black bear lumbered away with the dog inside.

The next nightmare included a huge sinkhole that opened up randomly beside my house, taking the dog’s side yard where his ‘zip line’ lives, leaving the dog, sitting precariously on the edge of this huge muddy hole. In that one, my house was getting condemned and I actually called a friend to come and get him, because I couldn’t deal with him anymore…as I had bigger problems, obviously.

Later, I reflected that it was a good sign that the dog didn’t actually get swallowed up by the sinkhole. I mean, he did survive that one, so that must be a good sign, right?

So, what makes him so hard and difficult, you ask? Well, the list is long, but short. He doesn’t trust me. I don’t trust him. On the major side–He has shown signs of aggression that make me nervous. He has charged at all of us at one time or another. He has torn clothes and knocked little people down. He digs up my yard with huge, really huge holes (probably where the sinkhole dream stemmed from!)

He grabs anything that is on the floor and not for him and runs around my living room like a crazy dog, finally ending up behind the couch with the contraband. On the minor side–he has chewed up my couch pillows and coffee table.

Ultimately, there’s no joy; there’s no love. On the rare moment, that I could get him to lay beside me on the couch, so I could pet him, there would be a few lovely seconds.  Literally, I could pet him sweetly for about 2-3 minutes before he would start to gnaw at my arm as if it were a chew toy. When I look at him in the eye, really trying to understand him and his personality, there is really just…nothing. It is sad, I know. There is no connection. He doesn’t really like us.

I would describe him as a really bad roommate. He eats my food. He lives at my house. He messes up my yard and leaves a mess for me to clean up. He sleeps on my couch and makes a lot of noise. And he contributes … nothing.

And before you start giving me all of your great advice about how to make this better, let me just say, I’ve probably done it. I’ve probably tried it. I’m not new to this game, I’ve had dogs before. I know about alpha training. I’ve read a couple of books. In a very weak moment in the middle of the night, I’ve even ordered the program from the infomercial. I’ve even sadly invested in the shock collar and muzzle. Like I said, don’t judge me.

Every other day, I make a decision. I decide to actively pursue another home for him. The next day I decide to keep him and keep working with him.

Honestly, it is exhausting.

When I signed up for this, I was hoping for something so different. It was late one night, last summer. I was up late by myself, feeling a little lonely in the living room. When I realized, I was really missing having a dog in the house. I was missing Cayman and the comfort that Cayman always used to bring me. The very next day, I got a message about a litter of puppies, 14 of them, just taken to a Humane Society. Literally, buckets of puppies. I thought it was a sign. So I picked one out from a bunch of pictures—I’ll take the one sitting still, there in the middle, with the little white heart on his chest. I thought he was sitting still because he was the calm one.

From Day one, there was always something missing. He was always a little too much, a little off for us. There was never a bonding, never a connection. Maybe it was circumstantial. Maybe it was timing. Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be and I tried to force the situation. Maybe the dog is just a little…not right. I honestly don’t know for sure. I’ve unofficially diagnosed him with Attachment Disorders with a side of bipolar.  I’ve since learned that dogs from really big litters like that tend to be a little more aggressive, since they have probably had to fight for food and for attention. I’ve learned that the weaning process is important and can make or break trusting relationships.

Like I said, it’s exhausting. Really.

Alas. There’s no ending to this story. The dog is currently laying here on the floor by my feet. Everyday, my X is desperate to play with him. Y is kind of over him, except for the idea of him. Felix decided long ago that there was no fixing this one. And then there is me. The caretaker. Still trying to figure this one out.

And as I say every evening as I leave him downstairs with a prayer that he will be better tomorrow and that he doesn’t destroy my house tonight:

“Good night H. I want to love you.”

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Renew. — Thanks to Superheroes in my Shower.

I suppose the superheroes who live in my house were picking up on my frustrations with the world over the past couple of days.  So, they assembled … and met me in the shower this morning.

avengers

Needless to say, I felt very safe and protected in the shower this morning.  Thanks for having my back, Avengers!  This made me laugh and somehow brought me a renewed hope in the world.

Yesterday, we ran. Felix and I together. (By the way, I am hearing from some of you that you don’t know who the heck this Felix is. Ha! Here’s the story:  MommyVerbs: Meet the Stars

We ran a 5K together in honor of the 32 who were senselessly and violently taken from this world while at Virginia Tech six years ago on Tuesday. Before the run, we silently walked the memorial, reading the names once again.

We watched the white, then maroon and orange balloons fly into the air, some making them past the trees, others nesting in the branches like holiday decorations. Then we ran.

It became very obvious to me, very quickly, that Felix has been running a bit more consistently than I have lately.

We ran across campus on the drillfield, down by the duck pond, up by the athletic buildings, through the tunnel, touched the Hokie Stone and ran through the stadium.

stadium run

We celebrated at the finish line and took the kiddos for a yummy brunch at a local bakery. Then it was a day full of softball practice and birthday parties and t-ball practice and play dates with neighbors. In between, we freshened up the yard with the first mowing of spring and new mulch in the beds. Inside, I cleaned out some drawers and checked the summer clothes of kiddos to see what will fit and what needs to be replaced. Cleaning up and clearing out is as cathartic as a good cry. The day ended with up with a yummy dinner of crab legs and shrimp and homemade bread sticks. Then popcorn and a silly movie on the couch together.

The day … after a day that shocked me and frustrated me and attempted to deplete my faith in humanity, turned into a day that started with superheroes in the shower and ended on the couch, cuddling with my family.

A day that included a run in remembrance and some refreshing activities of renewal.

And for that I am thankful.

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Mess. — But it’s mine. And I love it.

Not too long ago, we were packing up for a trip and in the process, I discovered a huge mess in Y’s room. Not that this is a surprise to anyone, because I’ve mentioned before that the girl child would rather walk on hot coals than clean up anything. Unless there is money involved…she will work for money and Sweet Frogs frozen yogurt.

“Ugh! This house! It’s a pigsty!” That is my go to statement when I am reminded that I am not keeping up with household duties.

Fix it Felix took immediate offense to my exclamation saying that he doesn’t like it when I call our house names. And he is right. Again. Arrrgghh.

I don’t really mean it. I love my house. It is clean…. enough. We just have stuff everywhere. We don’t have a daily or even weekly cleaning schedule. We get to it when we get to it.   That is just how it is.

I wouldn’t be embarrassed to have any of you over. I might wipe down the bathrooms and pick up some toys and shoes before you arrived, but other than that, it would be presentable. I’d welcome you in and hope that you see our house as it reflects our lives and how we choose to live it.

Because we LIVE in our house. I mean, we really L.I.V.E. in it. And all that goes with that.  We work and play and cook and wrestle and wallow and sleep and dress and laugh. We come in and out of it and go up and down in it and run all around in it. We have stuff. The stuff of our lives. Toys. Socks. Shoes. Jackets. Backpacks. Folders. Books. Games. Puzzles. Dishes. The Dog.

So a few days later on this trip, we stayed with some friends who have a beautiful home. Nicely decorated. Nice furniture and rugs. Beautiful hardwood floors. Antique tables and lamps. Plants and flowers in delicate vases. Pictures and books on shelves. Crisp, made up beds and neatly folded towels in the linen closet. Spotless kitchen. Gorgeous table.

As many times as I have stayed there, I am rarely, really comfortable in their house.

During our visit, I got up early, before anyone else and wondered into the kitchen to help myself to some hot tea. As I drank it, I walked around the living room and suddenly realized just what it was.

There’s no mess here. Nothing to pick up off of the floor. Nothing to trip over. No dog to tell to get off of the couch so I can sit down. No crumbs on the counter or spots on the refrigerator door. No scratches on the hardwoods or nicks in the vases. There’s no kiddo artwork or schoolwork cluttering up the kitchen table. There are no dishes in the sink.

It is a lovely house. Don’t misunderstand this. I love these folks (and their generous hospitality) very much.

Their house just doesn’t feel like home to me.  I’m always a little nervous here, feeling like I don’t belong: That I might forget and put my feet up on the coffee table. That my kiddos will run too fast through the house and knock over a lamp. That I will drop a plate and ruin the Lennox collection. That we might track mud in after exploring the woods in the backyard. I’m always a little on edge, looking for potential disasters around every corner.

So for now, I think I will keep my mess. And I will try to keep up with it.

And  I will appreciate it for what it is.

A picture of our lives.

Right now.

And I won’t call it names anymore.

This little reflection is inspired by a recent post by Grandma Says   She was missing her mess. And in the process, helped me love mine a little more. Thanks Grandma Says! I needed that!  

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Time. — MommyVerbs Needs a Few Minutes.

Yes. MommyVerbs needs some time.

It has been a very busy weekend full of kid-ertaining.

Which I don’t mind really. 🙂 I have dreams of being the ‘cool Mom’…the place all the kiddos want to come and hang out.

Although, after they discover that I don’t have any sugar-y fun stuff around here, I’ll have to continue to charm them and win them over with my talents for snarky comments and fun games.

I did have some S.I.S. time on Friday evening to properly commence with the weekend. Saturday morning started with an early Easter play practice at church, then 2 kiddos plus one friend for lunch before taking all three to a birthday party. Then, we left the party with a different plus one who stayed until after dinner.  The in-between time included a pretty extensive fashion show, using dresses and shoes from my closet. They promised that I would find everything just where I left it and my closet would look the same as it did before….but I think they have a different idea of what ‘the same’ means. At any rate, the fashion show was kind of awesome and the two girlies put together some pretty cool outfits.  A couple of dresses I had forgotten about. Matched with some jewelry and accessories that I never make time to actually put together. They were all kinds of cute and adorable and made me long for summer when I can wear these ensembles again.

There was a moment when Y came down in a shirt, that she was wearing as a dress with a pair of my high heeled boots. It forced the conversation with Felix about this same kind of situation, but imagine Y as a 16 year old. I decided we needed a code word for “get yourself back upstairs and change your clothes.” He said we would talk about that later. Later is going to be here before we both know it.

Then this morning, Felix was just a smidgeon under the weather, so he got a much deserved pass to rest. I’m cool with that because he picks up a lot of the kid-slack during the week. It started with going to church for the play, and I had to drive the kiddos in sleet and snow to get them ready. The play was cute and Y delivered her one line with gusto!  She was super convincing as the servant girl who accuses Peter and his first betrayal ensues.  I believed, I did.

Then it was home for lunch and cleaning up and before I knew it, I was here with the kiddos and…  plus three for a neighborhood snow day party.

Yes. It is the fourth day of SPRING and we have four inches of snow on the ground. That is just wrong … on every level, WRONG.

And all was well, except there was a time when I thought I would need to stop everything and order myself an eye patch because I was about to poke my eye out … that was when the boy child was having some issues with his snow gear. The snow pants were too tight and he needed to take his jeans off and the shoes were wrong and his sock felt funny and now the sleeve is too tight and, “get it off, get it off! My arm can’t breathe” was heard throughout the house.

Finally, I convinced him that if he would just let me get him dressed so fast and he could get outside and all will be well. I sang my best version of intense scenes background music and sent him outside as fast as I could. I started to sit down on the couch and took a deep breath only to see the girl child running toward the door, with one boot on, carrying the other one while she runs in her bare foot. Really?!

So, you know how this goes now…the kiddos were outside sledding for about 20 minutes before they were all at the sliding glass door begging to come in because they were cold and needed hot chocolate.  I don’t do Swiss Miss anymore because of the added sugar and fake ingredients.  But I made them each an organic chocolate, no sugar added, hot cocoa and set it all before them.  They drank it, but openly commented that it wasn’t really sweet. No, but it is really, real, so drink up!

Then it was back outside for more snowplay and snowman-making, and by this point X and I had the whole “how to put him in his snow gear successfully” all worked out, so it only took 10 minutes this time.

My job then was just to monitor them out the window, raising or sliding windows open to say things like, “Don’t push your brother down the slide” and “Get out of her way, she is going to run you over” and “No, I’m not coming out there to carry the sled back up the hill for you…you rode it down, you carry it back up the hill.”

Fun was had by all! 🙂

When the plus three went home, it was dinner and bath times and brushed teeth and tuck ins.

Shew.

So, now…I’m taking a few minutes. And if there happens to be a glass of wine beside me while I wine wind down the weekend, … don’t judge.

Personally, I think I’ve earned a little me time this weekend. 🙂

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Smell. — How I Poisoned The Ones I Love.

I think I may have been poisoning my family.

A few months ago, I walked into a friend’s house and was immediately, completely mesmerized by the fantastic blueberry cheesecake smell that met me at the door. I got a little bit excited about the treat we would enjoy that evening. Looking around, I didn’t see a cheesecake anywhere in sight and have to admit was a little relieved that I wouldn’t have to fight the temptation of eating this, suddenly realizing, non-existent blueberry cheesecake. I really don’t like cheesecake all that much anyway.

We continued on with our lovely evening but I began to realize how hungry I was. It was because in every darn room there was this amazing, wafting, beautiful, food-like smell that made me feel all relaxed and well, lovely. I finally asked for the secret ingredient and she kindly obliged. There were some lovely plug-in warmers in every room, slowly melting little gobs of wax filled with these delightful, intoxicating smells. Oh my. I must have that.

So, I did.  I bought some. I bought more. I bought different flavors and even things for my kiddos.

And my house started to smell like the beach. I walked through the door after a busy day at work, into a place that reminded me of sand and surf and sunshine. It was a beautiful thing. Sometimes it would be vanilla-y or caramel-y or all sorts of scents of lovely. I bragged about it to friends. I posted on Facebook about how it covered up the smell of kale in my house after making a huge batch of chips.

And then.

Remember I told you about my longtime friend of a friend of a friend who was diagnosed with cancer? Well during this same time, while this friend of a friend of a friend was in the middle of chemotherapy treatments, I became very aware of some things. I was in the bathroom, blow drying my hair, (which by the way, how many times do I share on here that I had some kind of revelation, while I am in the bathroom, blow drying my hair?…I not-so-secretly think my hair dryer is magical…but I digress) when I heard my daughter coughing. I asked if she was ok and she said yes. But then I realized that X had a bad cough, too.

Why do they both have such bad coughs?

Then came the freak out. It wasn’t completely crazy at first. There was a calm crazy that started as I picked up my phone and started searching for what was IN the little gobs of wax that were making my house smell so heavenly.

Google: The cause of many a freak out over the years.

What I found was that I couldn’t rule out the fact that the reason my kiddos were coughing was so that my house could smell like the beach. The fragrances are full of chemicals. There is debate about whether those get released into the air, but I’m betting they do. I taught 5th grade. I know that when you heat water, the molecules move around faster and it changes to gas and the gas is released into the air around it. Duh.

Then I read that the little gobs of wax had a petroleum base. Petroleum. The gas I put in my car is made from petroleum.

Cue the FREAK OUT.

I really did run through the house, in tears by this point, turning off all of the plug in warmers and then ran back through ripping them out of the outlets. My hands were covered in warm, melted wax that sloshed out as I carried each one to the garbage can, pouring out the gooeyness.

Felix stood by, just watching. Probably a little afraid to get too close for fear of being burned by the crazy lady carrying hot wax around the house. That would be a different 50 shades book, just saying’.

It took a while, but I finally came around to discussing this with him. We agreed that if we can’t be sure that these are not hurting our kiddos and our health, then there is no need for our house to smell like the beach. We will open our windows more. Our house will smell like the mountains. And sometimes it will smell like skunks. Because, well, skunks came around at night and such. Nature happens.

Pepe_Le_Pew

Here’s the thing. I know a lot of folks who are walking around, feeling miserable all of the time. They ‘eeyore’ about their lives, (I just turned Eeyore into a verb…YES! she said pumping her fist in the air!)…suffering from headaches and sinus infections and not sleeping and aches and pains. They make doctor appointments while downing their 3rd Mountain Dew of the morning after eating fast food for breakfast.

It is time to take a look around. What is making us sick? I know it is not as simple as this. People get sick. There are germs, there are real illnesses and disease that are just going to happen, because that is how things work within our bodies. We can’t stop everything. But. Our world is full of toxins. I think I can say that with a fair degree of confidence even without being a doctor or researcher.

Our world is full of toxins. I just said it again. And if we can reduce the toxins that we add to it, by just a little bit, we may be just a little bit better off. If nothing else, we need to start paying attention. If we are going to try to EAT WELL and PLAY MORE, we also need to AVOID POISONS as much as possible.

In the meantime, I still have the plug-in warmers because they are pretty and make for great night lights around the house. Now, instead, there are lovely non-toxic, all natural, made by someone I know, soy-based (not gas-based) wax tarts making my house smell all vanilla-y. (Check them out on facebook: Green Oaks Apothecary and get your own.

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Heat. — Happiness is a warm … towel.

towel

I was in the bathroom one morning, getting ready for work when I hear that familiar sound: ‘Tweet-Tweeet”  The same sound that prompted X to share his concern over the fact that he thought there was a bird in the car not so long ago. No bird….just means I have a new text message.

I checked my phone. It was from Felix, who was still in bed, about 15 feet from me.

The text read: “Can you please go ahead and put my towel in the towel warmer?”

I wrote back: “Yes, but I’m pretty sure I’ll make fun of you in my blog later.”  So. If nothing else, I’m true to my word.

Over the years, I’ve hit a few homeruns when it comes to birthday presents and this one set the bar. A towel warmer.

Yep. A towel warmer. A few years ago, I got Felix a towel warmer for his birthday. It is all kinds of awesome. Imagine this: before you get into the shower, put your towel into the warmer. Push the button and when you get out of the shower, you can have a nice warm towel to wrap up in.  Heaven. (And apparently, it works for jammies, too! )

Or if you are Felix…one push of the button isn’t enough. Often there is this request heard from the shower: “Can someone push the button again?!”  🙂

It’s true. You know if you had the option, you’d do it, too! It is the same reason why we are all so looking forward to Spring finally arriving. We got a tease this weekend, but now we are going to be thrust into another cold, dreary, damp week.

Warm. Warmth. It’s a good thing. We want to be warm. We want warm weather. We want warm days at the beach. We want our hearts warmed…by words, by actions, by events … warmed with happiness.

“I’d really prefer to be shivery cold instead of warm,” said no one ever.

I followed up the towel warmer with another gift of awesome: a bed warmer…with dual controls. Yep, with the push of another button, you can have your bed warmed up before you climb under the covers. No more harsh reality of cold sheets at the end of a day.

Which is probably why someone invented baby wipe warmers. Imagine…you are a baby.  It is the middle of the night, you need a new diaper. Which do you prefer? A cold wet wipe? Or a warm one? The choice is obvious, but my friends and I share a theory about baby wipe warmers. (Teachers, of course.) We have a theory that babies who never knew that harsh reality of cold wipes in the middle of the night, are not fully prepared to know the realities of life.  They have been pampered in more ways than one and grow up to be the 5th graders who made us crazy some days.

But maybe not. Maybe a warm wipe or a warm towel or warm sheets or warm pair of jammie pants doesn’t make us vulnerable to the harsh cold realities of the world. Maybe it makes the harsh realities of life just a little bit more okay. Everyday.

And maybe that is why I always keep the seat heater in my car on HIGH.

All of the time.

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