Come play in my world for awhile!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Five a day keeps the doctor away

I love summer fruits. North Carolina is littered with road side fruit stands overflowing with produce at the peak of freshness. It's irresistible. And so it is that we've been gorging ourselves on tomatoes and peaches and blueberries and cherries and melon and corn.... It's heaven.

Yesterday one of my daughters was feeling a little "loosey-goosey" before school. That's code in the world according to me for intestinal issues. She had no other symptoms of illness whatsoever. I was 99% sure that it was just first-week-of-school jitters, so I said a little prayer for both my daughter and her teacher. Because nothing starts the school year off right like uncontrollable diarrhea... I was relieved when she made it home without incident.

She sat after school slurping on a sweet, juicy peach when a very loud, rude noise vibrated through the air. She finished the peach and reached for a handful of cherries. And then there was that noise again. And then I had an epiphany:

KathyB!: How much fruit have you eaten today, anyway?

FruitChomper: Well, that was my third peach... and I had blueberries at snack... and maybe I had some cherries, too... There might have been more.

KathyB!: I think you need to seriously lay off the fruit. No more fruit!

FruitChomper: (( emitting another wretched noise and a foul smell ))

KathyB!: No. more. fruit.

Fruitchomper: Okay, mom. You might be right. I think if I toot again poop's gonna come out. I thought fruit was good for me. Why is this happening?!

And so it is that we got a powerful lesson in moderation...

5 a day might keep the doctor away,

but eat more than six and you're asking for it.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Lessons in shopping for school supplies

* Do take a Xanax 30 minutes before entering Target. I've never had any myself, but I'm 99% certain it will help.

* Don't fool yourself into thinking that the signs screaming "SALE" mean that you'll leave the store without needing to sell a kidney to finance your purchases.

* Don't assume the Back to School aisles are in the same space/time continuum as the rest of the planet. 60 minutes in there is like 60 years.

* Do consider wearing your bicycle helmet. Even though you can't technically ride your bike to Target because you'd never be able to carry the 72 bags of needed items home on your handlebars, the helmet will protect you from falling school supplies. Three-ring binders fell onto my head not once... not twice... but three times as I was scrounging through the lower bins in an attempt to find the elusive $1.00 box of Crayola markers.

* Do consider steel toed boots as well. I know it'll look odd with your shorts and tank top, but you already look like a freak walking around Target with your bicycle helmet jauntily strapped to your head. Everyone will be too busy wondering why you didn't take it off to notice your feet, so go for it. When the pack of unruly heathens kids pushing shopping carts take the corner at mach 20 and run over your foot you won't even cringe. If you were wearing flip-flops you'd be hopping around like the Easter Bunny. Or at least I think you would. It's not like any of this happened to me.

* Don't underestimate the the lure of cheap office supplies. Remember my steel toed boot suggestion? Well, Kevlar body armor might be just the key to completing your ensemble. Why? Because those cheap pencils and erasers are like crack to senior citizens. There were more 80 year-olds than there were kids in those aisles... I got slammed in the butt by a shopping cart and was preparing to turn around and shoot some wound up little twerp with my evil-mommy-look -of-death when I realized the kid who rammed me was actually a 90 year-old man (give or take a decade).

* Don't be offended when the sweet little old man who can barely see over the top of the shopping cart tries to apologize for ramming his cart half-way up your butt by saying, "Oh! Oh! I'm so sorry I hit you, young lady! I thought I could fit through there. I really didn't think it was that big.... (pause) ...The cart! The cart is big! I didn't mean your keister is big. I meant the cart."

* Do rip open the pack of composition books and a package of pens. You need to make notes so you'll remember exactly how that just went down.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Given that yesterday was the first day of school I offer you, my beloved readers, the requisite back-to-school photo.

But something is wrong! Why are three children sporting new backpacks, freshly combed hair, and grins of anticipation laced with a tinge of anxiety while one is...

Moppy-headed and still in her pajamas?!

I'll start by saying that I love the year round school calendar and I think it is educationally superior to a traditional calendar for a variety of reasons. That was the disclaimer.

We live in Wake County, North Carolina and the schools here are so screwed up I can't even articulate the mess. Actually, I take that back. The schools themselves are fine, in fact I love the school we've attended since moving here and have nothing but glowing remarks for the teachers and administration, but the administration at the school board level sucks. Case in point: My youngest three are on a year round calendar but my eldest, who is attending middle school this fall, is now on a traditional calendar. She'll be home for the next month while her sisters are in school... And in October, when the other three are out for almost a month? She'll be in school.

There are some pros and cons to the situation, and I am nothing if not a glass-half-full kinda person... but this? Even I can't make it good.

This morning as the (three) girls were getting ready for school I had this conversation with Rachel:

Rachel: <heavy sigh> I always felt like we were a team... The Belinski girls... Like we were in stuff together.

KathyB!: You are a team, sweetie. That's the best thing about having all those sisters. It's special, and you will always be there for each other. No matter what. <gives big hug>

Rachel: Except I'm not part of the team anymore. It's kinda like I got cut. I'm separate now.

KathyB!: Oh sweetie.... <more hugs>

Rachel: It's okay, mom. I know you have to tell me that it's a good thing. But I'm old enough now.... you don't have to pretend with me like when I was little...

KathyB!: <spinning internally on so many levels. And silent...>


I expected to feel impotent as my daughter entered middle school. I expected to feel powerless and weak in the face of mean girls and peer pressure and hormones.

I did not expect that the board of education would deem that my child not go to school with the children with whom she attended elementary school. I did not expect to spend the next month scrambling to make connections so that she'll at least recognize a few faces on the first day of school. I did not expect that the school board would put her on a schedule that would be hugely incompatible with the rest of the family, or that they would deny all of my appeals. I did not expect to feel so frustrated and powerless and impotent as my children, at least most of them, headed to school this morning.


I know this sort of vitriolic spouting isn't why most of you come here. And yes, I wrote the letters, I appealed the decisions twelve ways from Sunday, I quite literally pleaded with the powers that be and I exhausted all recourse. Make no mistake, this is a very complicated situation, and I understand that it's bigger than me.

And yet, for me it's quite simple. My job is to take care of my children and foster an environment that nurtures our family, and I take that job more seriously than I usually express.

And for the first time in my life...

I'm impotent.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Summer's last hurrah

My kids are back to school today and I'm a little sad because I wasn't quite finished with summer. In an effort to close summer break with a bang, we headed to the beach on Saturday. When we arrived, parking was a beast. We eventually got a spot, but I had to be at my sneaky best to make it happen. This was probably the first indicator that "things" were not going my way.

The second sign came after we had lubed the kids with sunscreen and sent them off to play. I sat back in my chair and breathed deeply of the salty ocean breeze. As the fragrance-laden air filled my lungs I put my arms behind my head and relaxed. I took in the crisp blue sky, the crashing waves, the myriad assortment of people around me, and let go of my thoughts.

The family next to me was setting up their spot in the sand and as I turned my head to watch them I nearly screamed. What could yank me from the cusp of relaxation? I caught sight of my underarms. Apparently I'd taken pains to ensure freshly-shaved legs, and neglected another critical area. Fabulous. In addition to driving a minivan, having stretch marks, and being 15 pounds heavier than I was in my 20's, I can now add questionable personal hygiene -- in public-- to the list of things that would never happen to me.

I quickly pressed my arms to my body and decided it was time to go play in the surf. After all, if you're up to your neck in water no one can asess the status of your armpits, right? I headed for the waves and was pleasantly surprised. Wrightsville Beach has been experiencing abnormally high surf and the waves were huge. My family played together for awhile, but I was secretly happy when they left to get some watermelon...

I must have been body surfing for half an hour when I mis-timed a wave and got my ass handed to me on a silver platter. Sometimes when you're getting rolled by a wave you literally don't know which end is up. I briefly felt my legs kicking spastically to propel me to the surface... and yet had the odd sensation that my feet were actually above the surface. Right about the time I figured out that up was really down I had two more realizations: 1) The water was pulling me insistently in warning that I was about to get slammed again, and 2) I was about to lose the bottom of my bathing suit.

Sure enough, the second wave hit and the next thing I knew I was scrambling my half-naked self into a standing position. As I righted myself, I frantically scanned the surface for my bathing suit bottom. I debated whether to enlist the help of the swimmers around me. I chose to share my predicament when I contemplated making the half-naked walk of shame all the way to our beach area.

The people around me were kind enough not to ask questions, and immediately began scanning the frothy waves for my black bathing suit. Luck was on my side as one of the surfers near me spotted my suit and yelled to his friend at the top of his lungs, "Dude! Mike! Grab those pants! Those black things... Dude!! The lady lost her pants!"

Thanks for sharing. Now the entire beach knows that I've lost my pants. My humiliation is complete.

Fortunately, my bathing suit bottoms were recovered. Luckily, I remained chest deep in churning ocean water through the entire ordeal and was able to re-suit myself without exposing myself.

And I don't think anyone noticed my armpits either.

Double bonus.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Mixing Bowl

There are lots of things I love about summer: lazy mornings and loose schedules, the smell of my kids' sun-kissed, brown bodies after a day at the pool, the sweet nectar of summer's fruit... These are the main ingredients of my summer.

Unfortunately, summer has a few ingredients that are rather bitter as well: obnoxious children who pick on their sisters until fists are flying bickering kids, a constant parade of humanity marching constantly in and out of my house and eating all of the food scheduling insanity, unimaginative kids who have lost the ability to entertain themselves for 5 minutes the occasional bout of boredom. And that's okay... really. I mean, what would ice cream be if you didn't add the salt?! You'd just have mush. I like to think the bitter ingredients balance the sweetness and keep it from becoming overwhelming.

The real problem is, there's no recipe for summer.

I just keep dumping stuff in the mixing bowl and hoping for the best. Every year I throw the same ingredients into the same bowl. And some days I get a brilliant fusion of flavors that dance on my metaphorical tongue.

And some days it's just crap.

On a decidedly better note, I've been eating like a queen all summer thanks to the fantabulous recipes on these blogs. If you aren't already regular readers you are seriously missing out. I've tried their recipes, and you know what? I never get crap...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Chubby little kid butts

On most days I can look at my life and I can see the situations in which I find myself, and I can appreciate the humor (or stupidity). Sometimes it's cute and sometimes it's hilarious, and occasionally it's shocking.

And then other days? I don't appreciate anything... It's just. not. fun.

Yesterday was one of those days.

* I was yanked from my peaceful slumber at 4:00 AM by a daughter who had a bad dream and she scared me so badly coming down the stairs that I couldn't go back to sleep after the nearly fatal heart attack I'd just suffered. This was actually kind of funny, but I'm too busy being a grouch to tell it right.

* I sat by the pool playing lifeguard for 5 hours.

* I got eaten alive by mosquitoes (which honestly never happens).

* I was hot and sweaty and cranky from chaperoning in the pool all day and somehow I got bamboozled into having a a sleepover at my house. And I have this thing where I give my all during the day. 110%. But after 8:00? That's MOMMY TIME. Sleepovers often cause me to forgo MOMMY TIME and over-shoot my bedtime. Did I mention I was up at 4:00 AM?

* I had nothing to feed the sleeping-over-child for dinner except A LOT of watermelon (really, there was some other stuff, but mostly it was watermelon).

* And hubby is traveling. Everything is always harder when you have to go it alone.

I was crankily parading around in a funk while pretending that I was happy when I waltzed by my computer that was playing it's random-picture-screen saver-thing-a-ma-jig, and I saw this:

That makes me happy.
Even on the worst days...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


In North Carolina we get the craziest rain. It's not like regular rain. When the term "torrential downpour" was coined I'm pretty sure they were talking about the type of rain we get here. Today we got one of those rains, and the result was minor flash flooding everywhere.

Apparently, water running EVERYWHERE requires that moms and kids make paper boats and float them around the neighborhood.

Sadly, the boats didn't last long...

Apparently, the logs we use as a bridge over the creek got squishy in the rain because one of them broke when I was crossing. And yes, I fell into the stupid water.

There were, like, 27 logs there and I stepped on the ONE that wasn't sturdy. I refuse to believe that my weight was a factor.

Apparently, my boots were enough to ward off any encounters with snakes. I was scared to death some slimy serpents might be loose in all of that water. *shudder* On the flip side, I did walk into the most ginormous-freaking-spider web I have ever seen (actually I didn't see it. If I'd seen it I would've gone around it rather than through it). And I might have screamed a little while jumping in circles and clawing at my hair. I might have been afraid there was a grapefruit-sized spider going for my throat. Rachel might have told me to "get a grip." I might have restrained myself from shoving her into the creek. Barely.

Apparently, if you fall into the creek trying to save one of the boats the muddy banks will make it nearly impossible to climb out:

Hannah: Help me! I'm trapped.

KathyB!: You have to try, sweetie.

Hannah: I can't. I'm stuck.

KathyB!: Climb, Hannah...

Hannah: I can't, mom I'm really stuck.... You need to come down and get me.

KathyB!: Seriously, Hannah?! If I climb down there and I get stuck, too, then we are both going to be down there. Abby is going to have to go home and call 911 to get us out of the stupid creek. That would just be ridiculous...

Hannah: Yeah I suppose you'd kinda look like an idiot.

KathyB!: < I was thinking we'd look stupid together, but thanks for clarifying... >

KathyB!: That's great, Hannah. Now, grab my hand and climb. out. of the creek...

Yes, she's crying. And in her defense, that bank is close to four feet of liquid mud. There was no way to get a foothold and it was A LOT harder to climb up than it looked.

Apparently, there IS fun stuff to do on a rainy day, you just have to...

*Fall on your ass in a stream,

*Have one daughter tell you to "get a grip,"

*Have another daughter insist you strand yourself with her in a swollen stream.

Or, you could just head to Target...

and get a jump on your back to school shopping...

And call it a day.

Monday, July 20, 2009

This is why I don't play sports

Last night I was getting Hannah settled for the night. Hannah loves tumbling and has a gymnastic mat in the middle of her room. I wish I could explain what it is about that stupid mat that inspires me to bust a move . It just does. And so now we have stories that start like this: "Hey, mom! Remember that time you were teaching me how to do a back handspring and you...."

Anywho, Hannah does this thing at bedtime where, just as I'm about to leave, she'll say, "Hey, mommy?" But then she doesn't really have anything else. And she'll do it 15 times if I let her. In my heart I know she does it because she's happy and enjoying the moment and she doesn't want the day to end. In my head it makes me a little nuts.

I have these funny little made-up songs that I've been singing to the kids since they were tiny babies. The lyrics change almost on a daily basis. I've been trying to get out of Hannah's room without the "hey, mommies" by singing outrageous things and making her giggle as I slip out the door. It worked for awhile, but lately I've had to get more creative. Sometimes I'll do gymnastics. Nothing too fancy, but she gets a kick out of watching my nearly middle-aged body try to contort itself into the shape of my youth.

In an attempt to keep my act fresh, I threw in some ballet moves last night. I pirouetted and twirled... and concluded with a graceful landing on the mat. In my head it looked something like this:
In reality it was a little clumsy. And my landing was a little... off. And a strange popping noise shot from my calf - sort of like the sound of snapping fingers.

I guess overall it was a success. After convincing Hannah I was okay she just about fell out of bed laughing. I escaped with no "hey, mommies."


We live in a community where we have access to golf and tennis. Every so often DH encourages me to take up one of those sports, and now I know why I always decline: If I can hurt myself tucking my kid into bed can you imagine the damage I could do to myself and others with a tennis racket?

Or worse yet... a golf club?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Another lesson learned.

Do not give your child control of the garden hose on a hot, summer day unless you are standing close to the faucet so that you can turn the water off quickly if the hose should "accidentally" be directed at you.

If some child did have the audacity to blast you, point-blank, with a hose full of cold water do not run around shrieking like a banshee, as the child might confuse your running and shrieking as playing along. Even though you're fully clothed. Even though you are demanding she STOP.

Lesson 296: Sometimes it is much easier to do the chores yourself than it is to enlist the help of playful children.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

This is the end, at least for now...

By show of hands - how many people are sick of hearing about my critter invasion?

That's what I thought. I swear, it's starting to feel like Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom around here. So despite the fact that I have a hilarious story about a recent encounter between myself and a black snake in the swimming pool... plus another good squirrel story... I'll give it a rest.

Right after I finish this post.

I'm sad to say that the birds gobbled up all the baby frogs. Really, it's been like a frog buffet around here. I know the whole circle of life thing, but it's still kinda sad. We actually went looking for them today and the bad news is we couldn't find a single one. The good news is their good for nothin free loading parents who can't be bothered to use the stream behind the house like they're supposed to adult counterparts were swimming happily in our pool. As usual.

Trust me when I say it's better to get them out when they're alive than it is to scoop them out dead. Blech.

Except today the kids didn't rescue the frogs. They played with them.

They built elaborate boats for the frogs.
And zoomed them back and forth for hours.

I know there were a lot of people yesterday that swore this was bad news...
who were mortified by all the slimy frogs...

But I sat by the pool for 3 1/2 hours and read books. No one asked for snack or drinks. Frankly, no one even talked to me. It was as if a babysitter had taken the kids for the afternoon. It was that peaceful.

And then I held up my end of the bargain and made the kids release the frogs while they were still healthy and viable and able to make more baby frogs.

And that was peaceful, too.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Maybe I should apologize?!

I guess when I said yesterday that Mother Nature could bite me I might have been a little rude. But I was frustrated. I was really looking forward to all that yummy fruit.

That was my lame-o attempt at an apology.

I bet you're wondering why I'm apologizing.

Well you know what?

When I told Mother Nature to bite me... she did.


Well, not me... but my garden. Again.

First she sent the deer to bite the flowers off my hydrangea.

After -->

Then she sent a squirrel to nip at my tomatoes...
and pop out from under the deck...
and run over my bare foot in it's frenzy to escape.

Yes, I screamed.

Next I noticed that my flower beds were missing a lot of, well... flowers.
I wasn't sure what was happening.
I contemplated a shot of Miracle-Gro.
Not for me. For the plants.

And then I saw him:

Except he looked more like this by the time I raced downstairs
and shooed him away:


A Ground-flipping-hog is gobbling up what's left of my garden. Apparently yesterday, when I told Mother Nature to bite me, she decided she needed to go beyond the veggies and get the flowers, too. Hit me where it hurts.

I may be a soccer mom, but even I know a throw-down when I see one. This was war. I started plotting to remove the screens from my windows so that I could throw things from the kitchen when the critters came to graze. I had my melon-baller lined up and ready to sacrifice as the first casualty since I don't really use it much. It makes nice little fruit circles and all, but I never know what to do with the melon that's too close to the rind for balling... Stupid melon baller deserved to go.

I guess the thought of KathyB! throwing kitchen implements out the window at Bambi and Thumper made Mother Nature pause. Because instead of more hungry critters?

Mother Nature sent me these. Hundreds of them. Literally.

The world's tiniest little frogs.

That frog is on the tip of my youngest daughter's finger, and her finger tip is small. The frogs don't appear to be hurting anything....

And if they're harmless?

They must be a peace offering.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Mother Nature can bite me

I really try.

I recycle. I turn the water off when I brush my teeth. I use those stupid, curly, compact-fluorescent light bulbs that turn the colors of my home a strange off-shade of normal. I freeze in the winter and roast in the summer in the name of energy conservation. I'm pretty sure I do other things, too, but I'm too cranky right now to brainstorm. I don't really enjoy any of these things, but I do them because it's the right thing to do. So you'd think Mother Nature would want to reward me. You know, throw me a bone.

I have five blueberry bushes in the backyard.
The spring was promising and I'd hoped for a bountiful season.

This is what I got:

All because this guy:

came and ate all of the green berries before they got to turn blue

I struggled through the grief from the loss of my precious blueberry crop by focusing on the 67 luscious peaches ripening on my peach trees. Yes, I counted them. No, I didn't name them. I'm not a total nut case. Unfortunately, when I got home from Colorado last week I discovered

all of the peaches were gone.

Thanks, Mother Nature. I'm glad you didn't put yourself out on my account. I'll keep doin' what I'm doin' because I'm all about doing the right thing. I'm defective like that.

But Mother Nature? You and I are not talking.

Not until I get some fruit.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Snowmass IQ

KathyB!: Your zipper is stuck. Quit yanking on it like that or you're really going to gum it up. Do you need help?

Child: But I have to get it down. I have to go to the bathroom NOW!

KathyB!: Yes, but your shirt is caught. If you keep forcing it like that....

Child: <furiously yanking zipper with all her strength> HELP MEEE!

KathyB!: I'm trying to help you, but you have to hold still. And you have to quit pulling on that zipper. I can't even get my hand in there to...

Child: <doing her best impersonation of the Lucky Charms Leprechaun as she dances around in circles and wanks on the zipper like nobody's business>

KathyB! Seriously. Let me help you. You have to hold still. I can't see what I'm doing when you're hopping around....


KathyB!: Oh, for cryin' out loud.... <tackles child and frees zipper>

Did I not say hold still? Did I not say to quit with the pulling on the zipper? There are some days when the ridiculousness of being a parent wears on me. Days when I feel as though I am way too smart to be doing what I'm doing. Days when I'm pretty sure I'm the smartest person in the room. By a long shot.


The other night we were enjoying a nice dinner out with family and my brother-in-law ordered a drink called the Snowmass IQ. He asked, rhetorically, what we thought about the name, and I quickly replied, "If you drink one you'll feel like a genius. If you drink two you'll look like a fool." The drinks were delivered and there was some lighthearted joking about how I got to be so knowledgeable about the Snowmass IQ.

My brother-in-law had taken maybe two sips of the drink when he knocked over his water glass.

I giggled to myself. Maybe the Snowmass IQ was more potent that I thought.

We cleaned up the mess and the incident was forgotten as we admired the natural beauty of our surroundings: brilliant sunshine, mountains jutting defiantly skyward, crisp air, the distant crashing of the river... At this point my brother-in-law, who had consumed maybe a quarter of the drink and weighs in at an athletic 6'3 and 225 lbs, offered to take our picture. We handed him the camera and positioned ourselves for the photo. My brother-in-law angled the camera in preparation, and then paused to announce, "Wow. This camera's a lefty. Hmph."

He was holding the camera backwards. Looking through the actual camera lens rather than the viewfinder.

Being the kind person that I am, I only zinged him a little.

My brother-in-law let his wife finish the Snowmass IQ.


I've often thought consumption of alcoholic beverages might be the link to effective parenting, but I think I can finally appreciate the nuance of this theory. Not just any old alcoholic beverage will do. It's gotta be the Snowmass IQ.

The Snowmass IQ would have helped me solve the zipper problem in record time by giving me the intellect of a 6 year old.

And if it didn't actually solve the problem I'm sure I would've felt a lot... happier. Regardless of the outcome.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

It's safe to call me brilliant again!

Have you ever lost control of your child?

Have you ever tried to put your child in time-out only to have them leave their spot the minute you turn your back?

Have you ever wished for a couple of freaking minutes of quiet! I mean, is it really that much to ask?! a few precious moments of peace?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then I have just the thing for you!

I'm calling it the KCD, or Kid Containment Device.

Simply insert your wound-up, mouthy or out-of-control child into the convenient strap and hang from the nearest tree. It's perfect, too, because the children think it's all fun and games until it's too late to escape. Notice the dejected face of the child in the strap as compared to the happy bouncing of the child on the ground who is anticipating her turn. The bouncing child has no idea...


- I did not punish my children by hanging them from a tree, and I certainly wouldn't recommend it. All the cousins took turns doing this until the eldest cousin was too tired to lift anymore kiddo-o's. Those little whackadoodles were having the time of their lives and would have stayed there all night if they had their way...

Monday, July 6, 2009

You guys are good!

We are definitely in Colorado.
We're in Aspen.
Isn't this photo beautiful? I love the sunny wildflowers in the forefront and the ominous gray clouds in the background. Well, I love it in the picture anyway.
I might have gotten a little wet shortly after that picture was taken.
And the lightning on the ridge might have caused my horse to rear up....
But it sure was fun.
I'll be home soon and then I'll be able to tell you all about it...

Friday, July 3, 2009

Clue #2

I wander near I wander far
I couldn't get here inside my car
I went by No Name
A town of some fame
But I still hadn't arrived
Just the same.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Where in the world is KathyB!?!

I'm on the road again.
This is a sign I passed on my way.
Any ideas where I might be?!