Come play in my world for awhile!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

An accident waiting to happen

Today (actually, it was over a week ago but Halloween has got me BUSY!) I drove the kids to school. I pulled out of the school parking lot and happily switched from the Jonas Brothers to my favorite AM talk radio station. I was tooling along in my p.j.'s and engrossed in a discussion on credit default swaps when a personalized license plate caught my attention. And it wasn't one of the obvious ones like MOMEBUS, either. Innnnteresting.

I missed some of the letters as the car sped by. Frustrated, I fixed my gaze on the image of the license plate in my rear view mirror. I was intrigued and wanted to get the letters committed to memory. But then I had to slam on the breaks to keep from rear ending the car that had stopped abruptly in front of me. After I caught my breath I said a quick prayer of thanksgiving for the fact that I had not plowed into someone while driving around in my p.j.s and obsessing over license plates. No one would have been hurt as I wasn't going fast at all, but can you imagine me trying to explain how it happened while standing there in my p.j.'s (I know, I know. Maybe I should learn something from this p.j business.)?! That's the kind of stupidity that haunts you for all of eternity.

And then I got annoyed. This is the second time in the last couple weeks that I have almost caused an accident. Last time I was cruising down the highway at a cool 55 m.p.h. I was not in my p.j.'s. I caught movement out of the corner of the eye, and turned my head slightly to locate the source. Hanging from the ceiling of my car about 6 inches from my face was a ginormous spider. Seriously.

Now I am not normally bothered by spiders. But having it right there in my face? Ack. I freaked out, swatted at it, and watched in slow motion as it fell from it's tenuous string of silk and landed right on my chest. At this point I am shrieking, and swerving, and smacking myself with all of my might. I think I squashed it but I couldn't actually see it, so I kept smacking and added some foot stomping for good measure. I wasn't taking any chances that it had fallen on the floor, and was preparing an assault on my legs. Fortunately, no one else was on the road. I had certainly done a poor job of staying in my lane, and I was down to about 35 m.p.h. by the time I finished my freak-out and got my foot back on the pedal.

And thank goodness no one else was in the car. It's bad enough when life throws a zinger. Most of the time I respond appropriately. But when I don't the last thing I need is a witness....

Friday, October 24, 2008

Irrational fears

Before I start let me just say that I have an irrational, unjustifiable, and borderline-psychotic fear of dental work. Seriously. And I'm not exaggerating.

So, yesterday I went to the dentist. No big deal, just a routine cleaning. At the end of the cleaning the dentist casually mentions that there is some staining on my molars. She probes around a bit, and tells me that it doesn't feel like a cavity, but she wants to polish/grind the stain to see if it was on the surface, or if there was something more happening. I sat calmly, and agreed she should go ahead and check.

At this point I really should have been afraid for my life. Last time I sat in that very same chair the same thing happened. Deja vu. Except it was with my front tooth. She casually mentions that she noticed slight discoloration (note to self, "staining" and "discoloration" are dental code words that mean bad things are about to happen to you), and tested the tooth for sensitivity. Of which I had none. Apparently the tooth was dead. She referred me to a specialist for a root canal. Cue the freak out. I floss, and brush, and rinse with Listerine. I am a freak about my teeth specifically so that I will not have these problems. I don't even get cavities. On the contrary, I am the person who sits in the chair while the dentist lavishes me with praise, and compliments me on my impeccable dental hygiene. I do not get root canals.

Seeing that I am a half step from a complete mental breakdown at the mere thought of a root canal the dentist wisely prescribes me some elephant tranquilizers (her words not mine) for the day of the procedure. She assures me I won't feel a thing.

Fast forward to The Day. I take one of the elephant tranquilizers. 20 minutes before I am supposed to have my butt in the chair I feel nothing. Nada. I start to panic. Exasperated, my husband tells me to take the other one. That's why she prescribed two, right? So I do. I'm called in to the exam room, and still nothing. That stupid dentist tricked me! She probably gave me a placebo. To make a long story short the specialist did some additional tests, determined that the tooth wasn't completely dead, and decided we'd take a wait-and-see approach. In and out in five minutes with no root canal.

My head was literally buzzing with relief as I moved to stand up. Except it wasn't relief that was buzzing around in there - it was the elephant tranquilizers. I had to focus very carefully as I navigated my way back to my husband. He mentioned that he had cleared the afternoon to take care of me and suggested that we go have lunch instead. We rarely have time together during the day, and I was thrilled with the prospect. It should have been fun. Except for those elephant tranquilizers. By the time we got to lunch I was walking a little funny. Pat claims I all but passed out onto my plate of food. And that he had to practically carry me out of the restaurant. All I really remember is waking up in bed with a little bit of a hangover, and realizing that the kids had somehow beamed themselves home from school.

So here I am back in the dentist's chair. Foolishly calm. Praising myself for staying composed despite the fact that the polishing sounds an awful lot like drilling. Waiting to receive praise for my healthy gums. Waiting for my new tooth brush. The dentist finishes her work, and tells me I need a root canal. Now. Apparently the stain was the tip of the proverbial iceberg, and bad things were happening underneath. The more she polished away, the more she could see, and the more she could see the worse it looked. And now that she has started she really needs to finish. As she was talking the hygienist was pulling out ominous looking instruments. Holy Cow! And so, without my lovely elephant tranquilizers and without the opportunity to work myself into a state of near hysteria, I got my root canal. Plus some bonus work on four other teeth to prevent more root canals. Talk about getting blindsided. I got hit head on by a train, and I didn't even see it coming.

And today I have a whopping sore jaw to prove it. And a new toothbrush.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Apparently, I need to be re-christened

I was paging through the headlines on Yahoo this morning, and ran across this....

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Just like the "Seinfeld" episode where George wanted everyone to call him "T-Bone," Beyonce Knowles would like to be known by a bold new name.
The R&B singer has christened herself "Sasha Fierce

Of course my initial reaction was, "Ummm I care about this because...?" I mean for crying out loud; we have imminent elections, financial chaos, and a war in Iraq and this stupidity is what makes the headlines? Followed closely by, "If you're going to re-brand yourself at least pick something that doesn't make you sound like a complete putz." So, I closed the page and continued my surfing.

But the concept started to grow on me. If I were going to re-christen myself what would it be? I gave my hubby the gist of the story, and asked him what he thought I should go by. He just looked at me as if I'd lost it. As if?! I think I lost it at least a couple years ago. Then he asked if this had something to do with my blog. Sheesh. Well it actually didn't, but what the heck?! So I came up with a few ideas:

  1. Sassy Sally (Pronounced sass-SAY sall- AY) or Feisty Fiona - Because I am sassy. And feisty. Enough said.
  2. The Kid Wrangler - I have four. That is pretty much what I do.
  3. Blogasaurus Rex- The blogging thing is kinda addictive. And I like the Rex part because it makes me sound tough. And I'm not.
  4. Mrs. Greenthumb - Sort of like Mr. Green Jeans from Captain Kangaroo, but I like to garden.
  5. Supah Mamma - This one would be the name of my Mii (from Wii of course). Supah Mamma. But you gotta say it with attitude. And you have to have your Mii decked out with the purple spiky hair.
Eh, who am I kidding. Those are actually all sort of lame. Make that really lame. Good thing I'm not trying to brand myself, huh! I'd end up with no name at all. Except that's already been done.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Good people making bad choices

Last night as I was tucking one of my daughters into bed we had a conversation. It started off with my daughter asking about kids who had vandalized some playground equipment in Canada. Yes, we talk about random stuff at bedtime. She was wondering why kids do such terrible things, and wondering if they were, in fact, just terrible kids.

I like to think that no one is truly terrible. So I told her that sometimes good people get caught up in a situation and something bad happens. Even though it wasn't what the person started out intending to do. This didn't make a whole lot of sense to her, so I decided to share a little story from my youth.

When I was in fifth grade three of my friends and I were in the bathroom. We were washing our hands and chatting when one of my friends grabbed some paper towels, wet them with water and soap, and threw the gooey blob up onto the ceiling. Where it stuck. We all stopped with our mouths hanging open and stared at her. Until someone started laughing. And someone else joined in. And then we were all laughing. One thing led to another, and before you knew it we were all giggling and tossing gooey-towel-blobs onto the ceiling.

Eventually common sense prevailed. We composed ourselves and went back to the classroom. I didn't think much about what we had done until the next day when we were all back in the bathroom again. One of my friends was going to the bathroom when PLOP! One of the gooey-towel-blobs fell off the ceiling and landed in the stall with her. Now if throwing the blobs on the ceiling in the first place is funny, then watching them fall down on unsuspecting people using the bathroom is hilarious.

At this point we were laughing like deranged hyenas at the fact that we were getting bombed by our own gooey-towel-blobs. In the midst of this hysteria one of my friends suggested that we throw more towel blobs so that more girls could experience the fun and joy of having these blobs fall upon them while using the bathroom.

So we each fortified ourselves with an armload of gooey towels and picked a stall. We were still laughing like idiots, and tossing gooey blobs onto the ceiling in rapid fire succession when the principal walked in to investigate the source of the ruckus. Busted.

Had I ever done anything like that before? No. Did I know in my rational brain that it was a stupid idea? Yes. And yet it happened. Am I a terrible person? Not for the most part -- just a good person making a bad choice.

And just so you know, that is about the most horrible thing I did as a kid. I'm actually more of a goody-two-shoes. But something happened that day....

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Getting in touch with nature

Camping is fun but it is also a lot different than being at home or in a nice, posh hotel. In fact some would argue that camping is mother nature's way of promoting the hotel business. When you camp you have to deal with the weather, bugs, wild animals, sleeping on the ground, and people you do not know sleeping in very close proximity to you. It's usually fun. It's always an adventure. And there is never room service.

So this weekend I bit the bullet and camped with the Girl Scouts. Camping with scouts adds an extra layer of complexity to the whole process. Girl Scouts frown on dousing damp fire wood with kerosene to get a fire started. I, on the other hand, dump kerosene on dry wood just because it's fun to watch the POOF!
In addition to restraining my pyro-maniacal tendencies this weekend I also:

Neglected to shower for almost three days. Shoot, I wore the same clothes for the better part of three days as well. Why, you might wonder, would I wear the same clothes - night and day - for three days straight? Well, I got wet the first night. You know the night when it got down to 35 degrees. And then I spent the rest of the weekend in a vain attempt to regain my warmth. Getting naked to change my clothes would have allowed precious warmth to escape in the early frigid hours of the day. By the time the day grew warm and wonderful I was off in the woods, and not in the vicinity of my clothing. It was an evil, vicious circle. I felt nasty.

Watched my daughter become truly independent, and take responsibility for the ramifications of her decisions -- good and bad. For example, drinking thirstily before you go to bed on a rainy, cold night will cause you to wake up your "buddy" so that you can stagger through the forest to the outhouse. Twice. Oddly, they were still "buddies the next morning. Good thing I wasn't her buddy. I would have disowned her.

Slept next to a person who snores. And I don't mean a gentle, rhythmic snorer. I mean a whistling, growling, window rattling, jerk-you-awake-unexpectedly, guttural snorer. I think I got about three hours of sleep that night. It took all of my will power not to whack her with my shoe at around 3 a.m.

Breathed in the decadent smell of fall. I love the combination of crisp clean air, the wispy smoke from a camp fire, and newly fallen leaves.

Developed a new respect for women that can herd a group of 12 girls without losing their patience. I am telling you, middle school-aged girls are worse than three-year-olds: they have short attention spans, they don't understand the word no, and they get into everything.

Watched the look of sheer excitement and anticipation when my other three daughters joined me for the camp fire on Sunday. I was exhausted and, frankly, not in the mood. But those faces! Somehow I got excited all over again. I guess that's why I love little kids -- only a 6-year old could see the bright side of an outhouse.

How can you not be warmed by the site of a munchkin with marshmallows glued to her teeth?!

It seems camping is the art of getting closer to nature... while simultaneously getting farther away from electricity, hot showers and flush toilets.

Friday, October 17, 2008


The other day we were at a friend's house for lunch. The girls were all happily munching their sandwiches. They were hanging out just around the corner from the spot where I happened to be sitting, and I could overhear their conversation clearly. It went something like this:

Friend: I love your mom. She is so pretty, and nice, and fun.

Daughter: Really? Yeah, she is. She is pretty awesome.

Friend: She is always happy and she, like, never gets upset. I love your mom.

At this point I am feeling pretty good about myself.

Daughter: ((Silence))

Uh oh.

Friend: I wish my mom was more like your mom. She's always nagging at us do stuff like clear the table and finish our homework.

Not liking the direction this is headed.

Daughter: Your mom is awfully nice too, you know. I don't really ever see her get upset, either. My mom is pretty great, and all, but she isn't as nice as you think she is when company isn't around. She acts different. When we don't have friends over she gets mad at us too.
Friend: Yeah, I guess you're right. My mom's pretty great when my friends are around, too.

What! Where did that come from? Do I really put on a show when we have other kids over?! Of course I do.

They totally have me pegged. When we had some friends over the other day and an entire pitcher of lemonade got knocked onto the floor I was gracious and understanding. I cleaned the spill briskly, all the while making conversation and laughing and smiling.

If that had happened and it had just been our family it would have gone something like this, "Doggone it!!! How did this happen? If you need help you need to ask! That pitcher was full! Do you know how hard it is to clean up lemonade?! It is sticky! I am going to have to clean this twice to get all of the stickiness up! And I just cleaned this floor two days ago!! Ack! It's all over the cabinets too! Blah blah blah blah blah!"

I hate that they can see through me so easily. I hate that my patience isn't more bountiful. Serves me right for eavesdropping in the first place.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Dear Mr/Ms Fashion Designer,

I just put my jeans on for the first time of the season tonight. I hate my jeans. Scratch that. I hate long pants in general. I admit, I could lose a few pounds. 7 to be exact. I'm pretty sure those 7 pounds all currently reside around my waistline. In my defense, I crammed four kids into that waistline and it is just the tiniest bit stretched.

I'm willing to take ownership for my chub. But designers -- must you design for pre-pubescent, hipless women? Must trousers be designed to sit sooo low on the waist? I understand the emotional win of buying a smaller size. But when trousers sit too low on the waist the "muffin top" is allowed out of confinement. Most of us aren't built to wear these pants.

In baking, muffin cups are meant to hold the muffin together while it bakes. And a waistband is meant to hold on to your waist. Not your hips. If the waistband clings to the underside of the belly/hips then the "muffin top" has no choice but to spill over. Either that or your pants fall off. I suppose you could pull your pants up and cinch your belt tight into the middle of the muffin, but that would hurt. Let's just say there are alot of unconfined muffins running around.

So my choices are: 1) Super-trendy, super high waisted pants. But I don't have long legs and a flat tummy, so I can't go there. 2) Granny pants. The name says it all. 3) These pants. They are cut to fit around the "sweet spot" of my waist, but they are too big everywhere else. Still not a good look.

I am tired of the eternal quest for the perfect pants/trousers. I'm tired of wearing long sweaters and Spanx. I know the perfect pants exist because I have four pair of dated trousers that fit me perfectly. Shoot, a plastic surgeon could surely solve my problem. But some new pants would be soooo much less expensive.

There are legions of women like me running around in long sweaters. If you could just design some flattering pants I think you could make a fortune.


P.S. That is not me in the muffin picture above. While I do have a muffin top, I do not have a fatty flop! For that I need to eat another box of Oreos....

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The fine line between anticipation and dread

So, this weekend I am going camping with my oldest daughter's Girl Scout troop.

Last time they camped we went to the Outer Banks. I was really excited about that trip. We are still fairly new to the state, and we were going to tour a famous lighthouse, go horseback riding on the beach. Plus, we were sleeping in cabins rather than tents. Bonus points!

You could say that this trip was highly anticipated.

Mostly the trip went well. We did this...

and this...

and this...

These things were all fun, and I have wonderful memories.

We also did this!

I was most excited about the ride on the beach. The scenery was supposed to be stunning. The weather was nothing short of impeccable. The horses were spirited, which I think is fun. In my opinion, you need a dash of challenge or things progress into the realm of boring very quickly.

The ride started out well. Everything was as wonderful as I had imagined it would be. The area where we rode is not accessible by car and, even by horse, it took about an hour to get to the beach. But when we finally made it through the dunes the views were absolutely indescribable. The sky was a brilliant blue and the beach was pristine. It seemed untouched.

I was literally having the time of my life, so when the guides asked if we wanted to let the horses "loose" I was fine with it. We had walked and trotted most of the way, and the thought of the extra adventure was invigorating. The guides explained that the horses were not trail horses, and would do what we asked. If we wanted to gallop fine. If we felt uncomfortable we were welcome to continue at our current pace.

I have some experience with horses, but not much. I was curious to ride at a faster gait, but uncertain what to expect. All I can say is, THANK GOD I AM STILL ALIVE.

The moment we were given our freedom everything went wrong. One of the girls in the rear of the group was riding a pony. I have no idea exactly what happened back there. All I do know is that her pony decided that it was running the Kentucky Derby and blasted through the group at full throttle. I'm uncertain if that spooked the other horses or if they just thought it was a race, but all of the horses, mine included, went from a dead halt to a frenzied dash without warning. I held my own for about 20 seconds of this bedlam before I was yelling WHOA, and yanking back on the reins for all I was worth. The horse's eyes bulged a bit as a result of all my yanking and pulling and screaming, but he was otherwise unresponsive. My horse was in it to win it.

At this point I was screaming like a banshee, flying along the beach at break neck speed, and gaining on the evil pony that started this whole mess. I was also pretty sure I was going to either fall off the horse, or get a black eye. Forget about protective helmets! When riding uncontrollable horses on the beach it is always a good idea to wear a very, sturdy bra.

In a fit of desperation I dropped the reins, grabbed hold of the saddle horn and the horse's mane, closed my eyes, and held on for dear life. Fortunately, one of the guides finally caught the demon-pony and grabbed the reins from the rider. The demon pony stopped, and miraculously, so did the rest of the horses. The rest of the ride was uneventful. Except my butt was so sore that for the next two days it took every ounce of will power I possessed to force my stiff and bruised muscles into a sitting position. And did I mention that walking with my legs together was basically impossible?

When we returned from the trip and pulled into the driveway my husband and my other three daughters were waiting out front to greet us. They were excited to welcome us home and hear of our adventures. You should have seen the ear-to-ear grin on my husband's face as I struggled to pull myself out of the car and coerce my muscles into a semi-straight semblance of normalcy. I would have throttled him if I could have mustered up the coordination.

So this Friday we are off on another adventure, and I now truly understand that the line between anticipation and dread is a fine line indeed.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The best of intentions

Daffodil bulbs and Adirondack chairs.

What do the two have in common? Not a single solitary thing. Except that they are both projects that I purchased, with the best of intentions, that I have not completed. Heck I haven't even started them. Maybe that should be the jumping off point -- starting the project. Maybe I would be like a ball rolling down hill. Once I started I'd go faster. I'd pick up momentum. I'd go so fast that other projects would be sucked into the vortex of my productivity. My pride in my long put-off accomplishments would fuel the momentum. I'd spin with frenetic energy. Until the slope began to decrease. And then flatten. The momentum lost. Projects half complete.

The only thing worse than an unstarted project is a half finished project. So if unfinished is worse than unstarted, and I can't be certain of completion, then the only rational approach is not to start. Until I can be absolutely certain I'll finish. Right?

So I have four unfinished and unassembled Adirondack chairs that need to be stained a lovely shade of blue. I also have 9,345,783 daffodil bulbs that I have to get into the ground. Anyone want to help? Dad...?

Monday, October 13, 2008

It's the most horrible time of the year

As soon as I typed the title to the post this started playing in my head. Good grief.

Anyway, this isn't technically the most horrible time of the year. There are technically two most horrible times. One comes in the spring and the other in the fall. I despise these times. I procrastinate and make excuses to avoid these times, but eventually, like all unsavory happenings, they have to be dealt with.

It's ironic, though, as fall is actually my favorite season. The weather is gorgeous -- the leaves are changing, the temperature is warm with just a hint of a chill, the air has the subtle taste of smoke from some one's fireplace. Lovely. Fall is also sort of a gateway season. October has Halloween, and from there it is just a hop, skip, and a jump from Thanksgiving to Christmas to New Years. The gorgeous weather tinged with the beginning of anticipation of fun to come -- this is why I love fall.

So if I love fall so much why is this the most horrible time of the year? This is why:

I hate, hate hate going through the kids' closets when the seasons change. The kids are close enough in age and build that nearly EVERYTHING can be passed down. Over the years I've learned that if I don't have a process in place, I tend to lose track of things. And then find them when they are no longer useful. And that is unacceptable.

I have a process in place, but it takes forever. And it is painful for everyone involved. Here is how it works:

-Sort through closets and drawers.

-Pitch clothes that are too small and can't be passed down into one pile.

-Pitch dirty clothes that somehow got put back into the drawer in another pile.

-Get crabby because you can't believe they'd put dirty clothes in their drawer.

-Pitch clothes that can be passed down into yet another pile.

-Pitch clothes that might still fit in 6 months into still another pile.

-Marvel at all the piles.

-Remember that it isn't actually winter yet, and pull out clothing that can be worn over the next few, transitional weeks.

-Decide to pull boxes of hand-me-downs from top of closet -- even though you can barely reach them -- even though you should probably get something to stand on.

-Nearly cause youngest daughter bodily harm when you lose control of a large box of clothes.

-Transform into Super Mom as you dramatically yell for your daughter to save herself.

-Sacrifice your body by lunging over her so that the box bounces off of your back and crashes into the basket of play food. Ouch.

-Vow to get a step ladder next time.

-Realize there is a pattern of being maimed by plastic storage boxes, and wonder what it means.

-Survey damage - plastic clothes box is broken. Toy basket that used to hold play food needs to be replaced.

-Summon slightly shaken daughter to begin trying on clothes to see what fits and what doesn't.

-Start a mental list of what this child needs vs. what we actually have.

-Smile insincerely as daughter dances around the room with shirt stuck on her head.

-Yank pants off of child's legs as she rolls around on the floor whining about trying on pants.

-Smile evilly inside your head when she says "Ow! My foot was caught in there."

-Lose another ounce of sanity

-Tell daughter that she is welcome to go to school naked or in clothes 2 sizes too small. Because that is what is going to happen if she does not try these bleeping pants on right now.

-Start deep breathing exercises to keep from pulling hair out.

-Stagger through this process four times.

-Realize that you should have kept a written, versus mental, list of what you need for each child. The day is shot and details are fuzzy.

-Survey complete and utter destruction. There are piles in the hallway. Clothes are everywhere. Chaos reigns.

-Concede that the task can not be conquered in a single day.

-Curse loudly and descriptively at the thought of another day tainted by the most horrible time of the year

Mission Accomplished

Friday, October 10, 2008

This is what it's come to

I don't know if our parenting is flawed. Maybe we have passed on some sort of genetic deficiency. My kids, especially my youngest two, can not sleep in. On school days this is a blessing. Friends tell me how they have to blast their children out of bed. Not me. Often as not, my kids wander down and wake me up.

As long as we stick to a rigid schedule this is just fine. They go to bed at 7:30 and sleep until 7:00-ish. Completely reasonable. The problem comes when they don't go to bed at 7:30. If they go to bed at 9:00 they get up 7:00-ish. 11:00? Awake at 7:00-ish. 1:00 (a.m.!) maybe 8:30. This would be okay if they would take a nap. But somehow a nap is viewed as a punishment in our house. I'm willing to concede that this might be a direct result of our parenting, but let's just jump past that for the sake of argument.

So we're tracked out (we're on a year round school calendar so we have a 3 week break). We are not abiding by our normally rigid schedule. The result? Poor behavior. Are they swinging from the chandeliers? No. Are they running amuck? Definitely not. Do they have a short fuse, and does a regular conversation deteriorate into either tears, a bad attitude, or defiant behavior? You betcha. (I did my best Sarah Palin as I typed that :)

My husband has a hypothesis. He thinks that, if we make it as dark as a cave, they will sleep past 7:00-ish. This week Pat had a meeting in Charlotte, and I had the kids all week -- solo. With no school. And no schedule to observe. I wanted them to stay up, enjoy their time off, and just be kids. My punishment for this benevolence is wicked, cranky, sassy, 6-year-olds. I am not tolerant of the wicked, cranky or sassy. Things have deteriorated. Pat is still traveling. In a fit of desperation, this is what I resorted to:

Tin foil. I actually covered one of my twins' windows in tin foil to block the light. I would have done Abby's window in tinfoil as well, but her window faces the street. I don't want to explain our idiosyncracies to the HOA.

A hypothesis is an educated guess. You know the facts now. Did the tinfoil solution work? Of course not! I was desperate enough to hope that a stupid, $2.00 roll of foil was the answer to my prayers.

I knew it wouldn't work. My twins were up until 9:30 p.m. They were fun, and I loved that they were up late. But at 7:09 a.m. Emily rolled in. Abby followed at 7:23. I acknowledged that my husband's hypothesis was, in a word, crap. And so it is that I get wicked, cranky, sassy kids for yet another day. Without Pat.

Giddy up!

Rach has been riding on and off for about two years, and consistently for the last 8 months or so. I tried hard to talk her out of the whole horse thing. It's expensive. It's dangerous. It's time consuming. But she really, really loves it.

It's not just the riding she loves, either. She takes pleasure from grooming, and cleaning tack, and mucking stalls. I'm proud of her for pursuing this in spite of the fact that we didn't want her to do it. I guess we could have told her that riding was absolutely not an option. But she has been crazy for horses since preschool. I thought she'd grow out of it, that it was just a phase, but it wasn't. And she didn't.

Now I see that maybe it isn't such a bad thing. Being responsible for another living creature, even if it is only while you are riding upon it's back, is healthy and requires maturity. It's a lot of work, and that's never a bad thing. She is focused on something wholesome, and hasn't started down the slippery slope of clothes and fashion. It's also been good for us. Rachel and me. We spend a lot of time together, just the two of us, riding out to the barn in the early mornings, brushing the horse until it gleams, washing him down after a hard ride, and waiting, waiting, waiting for him to dry completely before putting him back in his stall. We talk a lot during those times.

I guess sometimes you just have to step back and let kids tell you what they need, rather than trying to corral (get it?! this is a post about horses... corral.... kinda punny?!) them into doing what you think they should want/need. Who knows. This parenting stuff is tricky. Just don't fall off, Rach. Okay?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I guess blondes really do have more fun

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut judge has given the brush-off to a blonde woman's lawsuit claiming L'Oreal Inc. ruined her social life when she accidentally dyed her hair brunette with one of its products.

Charlotte Feeney of Stratford says she can never return to her natural blonde hue, a shock that left her so traumatized she needed anti-depressants. She says she suffered headaches and anxiety, missed the attention that blondes receive and had to stay home and wear hats most of the time. A Superior Court judge dismissed Feeney's 2005 lawsuit today.

This is just the kind of stupidity I need on a day like today. The kids are well-behaved and angelic driving me absolutely bonkers. I am this close to clobbering one of them. I'm not even particular about which one. Sigh. We are going through a bad patch. The kids don't really fight per se, but they are constantly bickering. It is a relentless background noise that very rapidly erodes a person's sense of well-being. I'm going bananas here.
But at least I know there is a solution. Blonde hair. Apparently, this lady was Wonder Woman when she was blonde. So that means if I dye my hair blonde all my troubles will cease as well, right? Boy, I'm gonna get right on that.
I'm also going to send off a quick email to Treasury Secretary Paulson and let him in on this little secret. Surely if he goes blonde he'll instantly be able to salvage the remaining shreds of Wall Street. Shoot, I might even copy Ben Bernanke so he can get in on the action.

Pat will be so surprised when he returns from Charlotte to find an impeccably clean home, four fabulously quiet and content children, and a platinum blonde me.

P.S. The formatting is still WRONG! The other day I had too many spaces, and now I have NO SPACES between my paragraphs. I can't stand this. I just wanted you to know that I DID NOTICE.

Guilty Pleasure

I've added a new addition to my blog list. This blog is young adulthood personified.

Mostly, though, this blog makes me thankful. Thankful that I have found my soul mate, and that I don't have to muck my way through the world of dating. Yuck.

Love is like a drug. It can surely get you into trouble. And it certainly makes you do things you know you shouldn't. I won't even go into the stupidity that I've perpetrated in the name of love.

As I read this blog my heart breaks for my four, sweet girls. Ohhh, the fun that is yet to come. I wish that I could freeze them in time. So that they would never have to know the pain of rejection. Or the hurt of unrequited love. That's why I love this blog. It's human. And honest. And real. And safe to watch from the sidelines.

Love.... Exciting and new... Come Aboard.... We're expecting yooouuuu!

The Love Boat.... Soon will be making another run....

I think my dork quotient just increased exponentially. WHY do I know the words to the theme song of that show, like, 20 years after it went off the air.

This blog was not supposed to be about my level of dorkliness. I just got carried away. Anyway, recently we received an invitation to a party -- a themed costume party. Guests were requested to come dressed as a character from The Love Boat.

The minute I read the invitation my mind started twirling. I decided it was not enough to merely portray a cast member. Too easy. There was only really one girl on the show after all. How fun is that?! I wanted to do something grander --something with more punch -- something that would make a statement. I was silent for a few moments, and then, Poof! Inspiration struck. We would go dressed as The Love Boat. How cool would that be?

I thought the idea was brilliant. Pat thought the idea was marginal. I won. We had at least three weeks to get the costume together. I surfed around on the Internet and put together some ideas, and we discussed the costume in general terms once or twice. I did manage to find some cardboard boxes that would work for making the boat, but that's about as far as we got. I should probably say that's about as far as I got. When I decided we were going to go dressed as the boat, ownership pretty much landed in my lap.

So fast forward to the day of the party. Shoot, forget the day of the party - fast forward to 3.5 hours before we are supposed to be at the party. Guess how much of the costume is done? Never mind. I already told you. Pat flew off to Home Depot to gather some supplies, and instructed me to get a game plan while he was gone. Sheesh. I think he might have been just the tiniest bit frustrated by the tight timeline. Go figure.

In spite of the circumstances we managed to pull off a very amateurish boat. I'm fairly certain, though, that I have lost all input into future costumes.

This is the only picture of us actually in the boat. Please do not look at my upper arm in this picture. It really isn't as fat as it looks. It's just that my arm is smooshed against my body, thus, making it appear fat.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Pool saga

I knew when we decided to put a pool in the backyard that it would be a source of great pleasure for our family. I envisioned the family playing monster (this is really fun), lounging on hot afternoons, and jumping in periodically, while in the middle of yard work, to keep cool.

I did not anticipate the continued parade of animals. Apparently the season for frogs and snakes has passed and the turtle season is now upon us. Turtles? Last week there was a teeny-tiny turtle in the pool. He was so small that I thought he was a leaf. I pointed to the object in question, and asked Pat for his thoughts. Unfortunately, Pat has been asked a few too many times about objects in the pool. All I got was an eye roll worthy of a female drama queen, and an assurance that it was indeed only a leaf. Well, it did turn out to be a turtle after all. We found his sad little dead body in the skimmer basket as proof. So ha.

This morning I was standing at the window gazing absently into the back yard and lo and behold there was a reasonably sized turtle swimming around in the pool. Notice how comfortable he looks in the midst of those lovely Fall leaves.

Luckily I am not afraid of turtles, so I grabbed the camera and ran down to catch him before he could get sucked into the skimmer basket. Please pause for a moment in recognition of my skills. It is hard to pick the turtle up and rotate your wrist at that angle so you can get a good photo.

He's kinda cute. I was trying to convince Rachel to get rid of her useless fur-ball of a rabbit and adopt this little dude instead, but it wasn't happening.

Since we've already taken a moment to be thankful for my wrist flexibility, now take a moment to admire the bedhead. We had all just gotten up when the amazing turtle discovery was made. Everyone had a shot at manhandling the poor turtle before he was returned to the stream that runs through the backyard.

So remember those lovely leaves that I mentioned? Well they are falling into the pool like mad.

Good thing the pool boy (aka my hubby) is on hand to clean that stuff up.

If I don't post for a few days you'll know Pat cancelled the DSL in order to rein in his sassy wife.

Little do the poor, unsuspecting kids know -- plans are underway to teach them how to scoop leaves. The leaves are going to be bad. We probably should have chopped down more trees. But we were trying to be good stewards of the environment. No good deed goes unpunished, right?

Originally, we tossed around the idea of covering the pool during leaf season. I was talking with another pool owner yesterday who strongly discouraged this idea. She mentioned that the deer have been known to jump the fences during the Fall mating season. She stated that they would try to run across the cover, and then get stuck in the pool. Now that would be worth a picture. And definitely a blog. Normally, I would think that stampeding deer sounds kinda ridiculous, but at the rate we're going a stray bear doing the backstroke wouldn't completely shock me.

Monday, October 6, 2008

See previous post

This is just going to be a tiny rant. But what the heckity-heck is up with the formatting on my last post?!?! It looks great when I hit preview, but the minute it posts to my blog -- BAM! Extra spaces galore. This has occasionally happened with other posts, and I just go back and keep deleting spaces until it looks right. This time no luck. I'm pretty certain that I have deleted those spaces at least 991 times. I now question my sanity. I certainly question my use of time. That is at least an hour of my life that I am not getting back. How can you delete spaces, and yet they reappear as soon as you hit "publish?"

Normally, I am a perfectionist. But this one is going to slide.

A week in pictures

I think it would take another week for me to describe the adventures of the last week. Then I'd be two weeks behind. Are you following me?! So I present, without further ado, the week in pictures.

We swam at night the first evening that our friends arrived from California. There is something about night swimming that is special. I think it is the creepy glow of the water, and the way the waves reflect fractured ripples of light. It's almost like a light show.

The weather wasn't super-warm. We weren't in the pool all that much, but we were around the pool. The younger kids were riding big wheels around the edge of the pool and blasting each other with water guns. Funny how it's not warm enough to swim, and yet they're soaking wet.

And we swam in our clothes. Night swimming I get. Swimming fully clothed - not so
much. And yet it makes the kids really happy. I'm not sure who is having more fun in this picture -- Natalie, who is flying through the air en route to the pool fully clothed, or Pat, who had the privilege of flinging her.

We also did some walking around Falls Lake, as well as the nature trails that run behind our house. The nature trails certainly lived up to their name. You can't really see it well in this picture, but Pat is holding a deer skull on the end of a stick. The kids also found a completely empty turtle shell. They thought it had crawled out of it's shell to find a larger one. I think it was the appetizer for whomever ate the deer.

Another fun activity was fishing. I am not all that into fishing, but there is a stocked lake in our neighborhood. It takes roughly 12 seconds to land a fish. It is more difficult to get the little fishies off the hook than it is to get them to bite. Get a load of that whopper.

We were short a few poles, but the kids were fairly patient. Overall, it was a success. No one was shoved into the lake in an effort to grab a pole. No one accidentally caught a person rather than a fish. And only one shirt (mine of course) got stained by fish guts.

I think my favorite activity was our day-trip to the Wilmington beach. The water is still around 79 degrees, but it isn't exactly optimal. Can you tell we needed to "get used to it?" Get used to it is code. It means the water is freaking cold. You can either get in and run around like a crazy fool hoping to acclimate, or opt for warmth by staying out. We chose the crazy fool approach.

Rachel and I body surfed for awhile. We both got tossed in the waves a couple of times. I am thankful to Wes, our photographer, for deleting the pictures he took of me after I got rolled in the surf. In my imagination I swim like a dolphin and cavort in the waves. If I have to see pictures of myself with my hair standing on end, crusted in sand, with my bathing suit pushed into unflattering places I will probably never body surf again. Thanks, Wes, for letting the fantasy live on.

While I played in the waves the rest of the group was working on a massive sand sculpture. They dug all afternoon, and did a great job collaborating and working as a team. Until that big wave came.

The cutest part of the day, though, was Abby and Ryan trying to surf. We had brought these surfboards that are supposed to be used in deep water. In a swimming pool. They ignored the part about deep water and swimming pools and tried to make them work on shore. They had the right idea. Sort of. But it doesn't matter as long as you look good trying.

We rounded out the week with a visit to Old Salem. We toured the town and enjoyed costumed docents who gave us a glimpse into a long ago life. If we are lucky the kids might have accidentally learned something.

I, myself, didn't learn too much. Being a natural born know-it-all it is rare that I learn anything new. I was, however, reminded of several things for which I am thankful. First, and foremost is indoor plumbing. There were chamber pots displayed throughout these old homes and to say that the kids were intrigued by the thought of peeing in the "coffee cups" would be an understatement.

However, mostly I am thankful for 21st century medical care. This is a display of some of the various knives that the doctor used for amputations. They amputated everything back then.

Feet, arms legs, hands, breasts -- everything was fair game. In a quote from one of the doctor's training texts they mentioned that the doctor had to be skilled, decisive, and QUICK. Apparently, anesthetic was not commonly available. Can you imagine?!

And that was our week! Now I just have two more weeks to fill before the kids head back to school. Any suggestions?!