Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Not Into Our Groove Yet

The older two boys finished school on Thursday, May 25th (a half day of school at that). I guess that makes this Day 4 of summer vacation. Oddly enough, I can't even remember what we did on Day 1 (Friday). Monday was Memorial Day, so that didn't really count.

Yesterday was Time Travel Day. I'm not kidding. We slept a bit late, getting up around 9. I exercised for 20-30 minutes while the kids played, then we had breakfast around 9:30 or so. Boom! Next think I know, it's noon and I'm still sitting at the kitchen table in my pajamas. How did that happen? Here's the amazing thing. I only spent a short amount of time on the computer - probably 30 minutes at most. So where'd the rest of the morning go? I had forgotten about this time travel phenomenon associated with summer vacation.

Today was a little better. Woke around the same time, exercised and showered, before the two kids across the street came over at 10 am (I was watching them while their mom ran a couple of errands). After they left around 11:30, I did a little homeschooling with Son #3, before running a couple of errands of our own, then came home and did chores. We (meaning I) got the idea that if we did a thorough cleaning today, then perhaps it would be easier to keep the house looking somewhat neat for the rest of the week. All we'd have to do is spot-clean! Yeah, right. Anyway, by the time it occurs to us to have lunch, it's 3:00! (We did have a snack earlier.)

So anyway, Dear Hubby just calls to let me know he's on his way home from work and do I have any thoughts about dinner. He knows better than to ask, 'what's for dinner?' (response: "whatever YOU feel like cooking.") So I explain that, um no, I haven't thought about dinner since I had lunch two hours ago. He says, oh another one of those days?

But hey, before we schedule an MRI or CAT scan, let's not forget we got stuff done, and the kids actually have time to play. This summer is going to FLY by!

Going off topic here, there's another cool blog that I'm enjoying immensely: The FlipFlop Mamma's. Faithful readers (all six of you), check it out. I've also included a link at left.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

What Type of Mamma Are You?

I was reading flipflopmamma's blog - one of my new favorites - and she posed the question "Do Clothes Make the Mom?" (To give credit where credit is due, she actually expounded on the topic from another mom's blog, which is also very good. Flipflopmamma posted a link so you can find it there.)

So how do you dress for everyday life? How about makeup? Here's me: I've gained weight (again) and refuse to buy any more pants, shorts, jeans until I lose it. This means I'm stuck with three pairs of jeans, one pair of shorts and few casual skirts. Add to that a dozen or so Old Navy Perfect Fit Tees in a variety of colors, several ribbed tank tops (I find the term 'wife beaters' offensive), and non-ribbed tank tops. I use these to counter the ridiculous tan I get from wearing tees. You know the one: tan arms, white pasty shoulders. I also have a few camis but I feel a little bare wearing them. I'd probably feel differently if I lost a few pounds.

I hate to iron and fortunately not much in my wardrobe requires it. If it's wrinkled, I can toss it in the dryer for a few minutes. Before I stopped working 4 years ago when Son #3 was born, I had a nice wardrobe of business suits, twin sets, skirts, dress pants, high heeled pumps, matching handbags, accessories...In my new life, it just doesn't fit (physically or figuratively) so I donated almost all of it. I own several pairs of shoes, but usually choose from among three favorites. I wear them until they wear out and then I buy more.

I do wear makeup. Jane Iredale Bare Minerals Loose Powder Foundation. It lasts pretty well on my oily skin in our humid climate and the sunscreen aspect is amazing. It offers good coverage (I'm prone to redness and broken facial capillaries) yet feels weightless. I line my upper eyelids with a gel liner (Clinique Limited Edition Gel Eyeliner in 'Black Honey' - a deep brownish-burgundy color with subtle sparkle), black mascara, and a semi sheer lip color (currently Clinique Almost Lipstick in 'Black Honey'). If it's a dressy occasion, I'll line the lower lids and add a coordinating eyeshadow. I never wear blush since I'm too rosy naturally.

I wash my hair every morning, which is harsh, but necessary. If I'm wearing it down, I'll blow it dry and depending on which conditioner I've used, I might even put the flat iron to it. I'm going gray faster than I care to admit so I use Natural Instincts semi-permanent color every 3-4 weeks on the root area only. I've had problems with permanent hair colors in the past so I'm not inclined to try them again - at least not as a do-it-myselfer, and I can't afford the expense of monthly salon visits.

I never paint my fingernails (they're too soft so nail polish never lasts more than a day). I do sometimes use Neutrogena Nail Enhancer. I also do paint my own toenails. Pedicures are a nice indulgence, but I'm not sure how I could get away from the kids long enough to get one done on a regular basis.

So now that you have a visual image of me, contrast it to this: there are two moms whose sons are on Son #2's baseball team. They're very nice ladies. They have the time and the money to work out at the athletic club. Both are pretty tan - I don't know if it's from their community's swimming pool (our 'community' pool is my neighbor's inflatable one), or a tanning bed. Perfect manicures (acrylic nails) and pedicures (one also has acrylics, the other looks like a do-it-yourselfer like me). Amazing figures and wonderful wardrobes. They show up at the ball park in the latest fashions - capris, madras, crop pants, tanks or halters with NO bra straps peeking out, 4" wedges (except today one wore a 4" chunky sandal), really cool handbags, perfectly accessorized. I'm in awe that they look like they stepped out of In Style magazine (or maybe "Lucky" magazine, which still isn't so shabby). Part of my wishes it could be me. The other part of me just doesn't have the time or energy to expend. (I may not have the money, either, but I do have bargain shopping down to an art form...)

We live in a pretty upscale area and I realize that I probably come across as less affluent. Whose the better mom? The truth is, assuming we're all providing adequate care to our families, we ALL are the better mom. Just because someone looks perfectly 'put together' doesn't mean she has it all together. And just because one of us is a disheveled mess at times (okay, so I'm exaggerating) doesn't mean we're not having a great time messing up our manicures while catching tadpoles with our kids.

For more on my fashion ineptitude, visit my March 21, 2006 post.

Friday, May 26, 2006

I'm Sorry - I've Exceeded My Maximum Number of Decisions for Today...

Have you ever felt that if you had to make one more decision, your head would burst? I feel that way more often than I care to admit. Today, for example. A perfectly enjoyable, first-day-of-summer-vacation day with my three boys.

I wake. I decide whether to do one of my DVD workouts or two (decided to skip legs today and work on abs only - I usually do both on Fridays). I wake the boys and help them decide what to have for breakfast. I decide what to eat. I decide what my 4 yr old would wear. His request ("pants with pockets"), while helpful, doesn't really narrow down things much. I decide what I would wear. Then we decide our day. We have quite a few errands to run and plan our strategy.

We pick up my friend who had an outpatient procedure at the clinic, stop by the pharmacy drive-thru window, then bring friend to her house. Off to Target. Decisions, decisions: whether to buy swimsuits for the older 2 boys (yes). Which ones? Looking for a bookcase for Son#1's room. Target has several. Will this one fit, will the laminate on that one peel? I decided I don't like either. We need two Target gift cards for the neighbor girls (Katrina evacuees who will be moving into their new home soon). How much to put on the gift card? Bumblebee card or Target dog card? (One of each.) Do we also buy a greeting card? (No.)

Next up: department store that's having a good clearance sale. I don't feel like trying stuff on. We decide to leave.

Next stop: Linens-N-Things. No bookcases there, so that was easy. Lunch at Moe's Southwest Grill. This was when I knew I was in trouble. It took me ten minutes to decide what I wanted to eat a taco. They prepare the food at the counter and ask you "Hard Taco or soft? (soft) Black beans or pinto? (none) Beef, chicken, or tofu? (chicken) Shredded cheese or cheese sauce? (shredded) Lettuce? Tomato? Sour cream?" ARRRRRGGGGGHHHHHH! ENOUGH!!!!! It's a taco, for Pete's sake, not rocket science. Just put regular taco stuff on it!

I gave myself a break at the pet store: I let Son#1 and Son#2 buy mealworms for their geckos while Son#3 and I waited in the air conditioned minivan parked right outside the door. While waiting, I get the great inspiration to make little ankle bracelets for the two girls that I bought the gift cards for, so it's off to the bead shop. Don't even get me started on the decisions *that* trip required!

When we returned home, I helped the boys clean out their backpacks and sort through all the stuff they accumulated and created during the school year. More decisions. What to pitch? What to keep? Where to put it?

So it's approaching dinner time and Dear Hubby asks what are we having? Not in a 'what are you fixing' way, but 'you decide and I'll cook it' (he's so great like that). Problem is, by this time, I have a headache and couldn't care less if the kids decided to have mudpies for dinner. (Actually, I'd nix mudpies, but if they begged for cereal, I'd cave in a heartbeat.). Dear Hubby decides to make chicken nuggets for the boys and pick up sushi for us. Left up to me, I'd just sit there all night until I got hungry enough (around midnight) and then I'd raid the cookie jar. Voila! Dinner is served.

Dear Hubbe really takes good care of me when I'm like this. So why did I want to scream when he asked me what I wanted to watch on TV tonight - regular program or DVD? Comedy or suspense? Kid-friendly or grownup? Arrrrggggghhhhhhhhh!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

If I Could Change One Thing About Myself...

Someone posed that question to me recently: If I could change one thing about myself, I think I would like to learn to relax more and worry less (that doesn't really count as two things, does it? They DO go hand-in-hand, after all).

I tend to put way too much pressure on myself. Perhaps it's because as a stay-home mom, I have relatively little pressure. Really. Other than having the coordinate the schedule of five people, which isn't really difficult for a Type-A person like me (thank you, Palm Pilot!), I don't have any real demands on my time.

That said, I volunteer for various things and the way I get myself worked up, you'd think I was negotiating a peace treaty to end nuclear weaponry. I beat myself up over the teensiest mistakes. Hello, I'm a volunteer! Sure, I want to do a nice job, but my livelihood doesn't depend on it! Don't like the job I'm doing? Fire me! Truth is, no one seems to notice the little faux pas. Yet in my mind, they're disasters.

Which leads me to Part B: I wish I cared less about what others - particularly strangers - think. I used to not give a rat's ass what people thought. When did that change? Why couldn't I have found a 'happy medium'?

Someone (okay, a therapist) once suggested it's the classic behavior of an Adult Child of an Alcoholic. We slip into people-pleaser mode to gain the approval of strangers since we were never quite able to attain it from the people we needed it the most. Uh oh! Apparently the Immodium kicked in. Is this the start of ... emotional diarrhea? Signing off now!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Emotionally Constipated

Emotionally Constipated. That's me. I realized that when I read a very deep, personal post by a fellow blogger (and friend before blogs). Which begs the question: what do about it - if anything?

Friday, May 19, 2006

Animal Rehab & Hospice ????

Son#2 (he's 8 1/2) wants to be a veterinarian when he grows up. Son #1 (age 10 1/2) has always been a nature lover, so it's not unusual for us to have some sort of amphibian, reptile or insect living in a tank or terrarium in our house. Some of the creatures are 'rescued' by my sons. Like the time our beagle was caught "playing" with a lizard. It was clear the lizard wouldn't make it. How do you put a lizard out of its misery, anyway? It's not like I could stomp on it (even if it's half dead) and I certainly can't afford to bring it to the vet (who would probably take it into another room, stomp on it... :-O ).

Anyway, Son#1 decides he wants to give the lizard a "good death" - that's Catholic for safe (in a lovely terrarium with beautiful plants) and surrounded by loved ones (in this case, my son). When the final moment came, Son#1 said a prayer and then we buried the lizard in my garden (where there are more dead animals than plants, it seems).

Tuesday night Son#1 and Son#2 find a moth with an injured wing. I'm not expert, but I'm pretty sure a moth can't survive in the church parking lot very long when it's missing half a wing so when Drew asked if we can bring it home and help it move peacefully into its next realm (is there a moth heaven?), of course I said 'yes'.

So this is why you'll sometimes find me in my PJs late at night burying bodies (non-human) in my yard.

Although he has "seen a lot of death" (his words), not all of our stories have unhappy endings. Two of the three wild geckos we collected when we evacuated to Lafayette, La for Hurricane Katrina are still alive and well. One just molted so that was pretty neat. (It's not as if these geckos don't run rampant in the part of the state were we live, but I think the boys wanted something to take from the experience besides the memory of our family of five sleeping on the sofabed and recliner in Uncle Harold's living room.) The box turtle we scooped up off the busy highway two years ago is doing well too. Then there are those like the frog we found lying on it's back on our porch. We put him in a terrarium, he rolled over on his back and stayed that way for 3 days. Whatever ailed him must've passed because he eventually perked up and was returned to the wild.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Son #1's Big Adventure in the City

Son #1, age 10, and his dad (Dear Hubby) attended a Boy Scout outing to the D-Day Museum in New Orleans. Some were going on afterwards to attend the New Orleans Zephyrs Baseball Game, but my son declined that portion of the trip.

Son #1 was very interested in the weaponry, planes and boats on display at the museum. Dear Hubby said there were a few gruesome photos, but I find that Son #1 has an amazing gift of putting things in proper prospective and therefore wouldn't likely find the images too frightening. This is one reason why I allow him to watch the evening news. We discuss the stories, talk about what might lead to the human tragedy so often displayed, and of course talk about how much good occurs every day, yet isn't considered newsworthy. In some ways, he is wise beyond his years. (His younger brothers are more typical of peers their age and I do tend to shelter them more when it comes to TV.)

They really enjoyed the museum and afterwards, Son #1 and Dear Hubby walked the mile or so to the French Quarter (no, they didn't visit Bourbon Street - he's not *that* wise beyond his years! ha ha!).

They did eat at Hard Rock Cafe, where the hostess had multiple facial piercings: eyebrow, upper and lower lip, tongue. Plus she had her inscisor teeth filed (or capped) into vampire fangs. Son #1 was surprisingly unimpressed. I would have thought he'd ask a billion questions about that. The waitress, a young caucasion women in dreadlocks, who apparently had a thing for men in uniform (Boy Scout uniforms included), was also entertaining. Both of these women would rate a second glance in our little 'white bread' neighborhood, but both were very funny and good at their jobs. Dear Hubby used it as a teaching tool. As in, Oh my gosh! Did you see that? Yet, they were nice and professional, which is why we should never judge a person by their appearance.

From there, they walked around Jackson Square and took a few photos. They saw a wedding party exiting the St. Louis Cathedral, looked at the various artists who set up shop along the square and then - ta da!!!!! Son #1 saw a large iguana. He said, "Dad, who do you think it belongs to?" (Translation: "Can we keep it?") There were two man chatting about 5 feet from the iguana so my husband guessed it belonged to one of them and told Son #1 so. Son #1 waited for a break in the conversation and asked, "Excuse me, does this iguana belong to one of you?" The answer was "yes." Son #1 asked, "May I take a picture of it?" (Translation: "Drat! I hoped it was a stray."). To which the owner replied, "You can take a picture *with* it." It was the highlight of the day.

I've Been Tagged (Again)!

I've been tagged by ~d. She has assigned me a letter and I'm supposed to list 10 things that start with that letter and explain them. If you'd like to play along (although I realize that several of my readers also read ~d's blog), let me know by posting a comment and I will assign you a letter.

My letter is C

1. Chocolate. Anyone who knows me wouldn't be surprised. This is my all time favorite food group. I gave up chocolate for Lent and since then, my craving hasn't been as strong. But I still love it.

2. Coffee. I only like two varieties: Irish and Iced Cafe Mocha (see #1 above).

3. Cat. I have a soon-to-be 17 year old male mixed breed cat. His name is Sebastian and he's part tabby, part Siamese. I adopted him when he was born at the apartment we rented in Kenner, La. He's moved with us to Alexandria and Annandale (both in Virginia), back to La. (Metairie), and now to our present location. He was an indoor cat - terrified of outdoors - until 2 years ago when he decided he'd rather live in my garden. I think he's has the equivalent of kitty Alzheimer's. He no longer cares about his appearance so he's a kitty with dreadlocks. I managed to shave about half the matted hair off his body. The rest will have to wait until he's in a better mood. Me on the porch shaving a cat. What must the neighbors think?

4. Cuts and Scrapes. There's a lot of that going around my house. Since yesterday, Son #1 cut his finger (the worst papercut I've seen!), Son #2 fell outside and skinned both knees and an elbow, and Son #3 bumped his head on the footboard of my bed and has a nasty scalp wound. A lot of Crying, and I feel like I should just wrap them in Cotton, but I won't use two C's on those.

5. Clairol Natural Instincts. Time for a root touch-up which I'll do in a few minutes.

6. Coyote. As in Turquoise Coyote, a bead shop in Pontchatoula, La. They have, in my opinion, the best prices on beads and jewelry making supplies in the area. I need to plan another trip there. It's a bit of a a drive from where I live, and I need to bring reinforcements (i.e. another person) to keep Son #3 entertained. The old 'bull in the china shop' probably wouldn't compare to a 4-yr old in a bead shop!

7. Church. Dear Hubby and I volunteer with a couple of different things at our church and enjoy it. I converted to Catholicism - another C - six years ago. (That's another story for another day.) There's a lot of Catholic-bashing in the media these days. I won't say that some of it is without merit. But I've always found it hard to believe that ALL people who belong to a certain group are BAD (with the possible exception of a few radical groups that promote genocide, but that's just my opinion). I'll save the soap box for another day...

8. Crap Shoot. It's said that life is one.

9. Comic Relief. That's Son #2 right now. He's watching cartoons in the living room which is all of 15 feet from where I'm sitting in the kitchen so I can hear the TV. Someone on the tube will say something amusing and Son #2 will come in the kitchen and act out the scene for me, complete with funny voices. In most instances, he's even better than the TV program.

10. Cinnamon Rolls. Dear Hubby made cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Son #3 doesn't like the white icing on his, so Son #1 and #2 argue over who gets the extra icing on their cinnamon rolls. Time was, not long ago, that I would've been jockeying for the extra icing myself. Maybe I'm maturing? Nah...

Okay, who's next?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Mother's Day is Coming!

Darn it! I'm not a fan of the day, personally. Oh sure, it's nice to be spoiled with breakfast in bed, and maybe a present or two (one store bought by Dear Hubby, one handmade by the boys), but it usually puts me in a melancholy mood.

I think it's because my kids are growing up (ages 10.5, 8.5 and 4) and that there'll be no more babies. Ironically, I don't think about the whole 'kids are getting older' (and therefore so must I) on their birthdays. Then again, there's usually a chocolate cake on their birthday and we all know that chocolate will cure most of whatever ails you. ;-)

Maybe I'll start a new tradition in my household. Instead of breakfast, I want chocolate cake. In bed.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Day 10 of Homeschooling - Not a Good One

Son #3 turned 4 in February. He's been begging for homework for months now since he sees his older brothers doing homework. I couldn't really find an affordable preschool program where they actually teach something. Most were academic but very expensive, or inexpensive but essentially playtime. We already have a playgroup.

Anyway, I signed him up for the Seton Home School kindergarten program, figuring that I can spread it out over two years. We usually work 4 days a week. The lessons are pretty short so it doesn't take a lot of time, but he really enjoys it. Except for today. For some reason, he decided it was "too hard" to draw the circles that he's been practicing for a couple of days now.

I know it's a just a momentary fit of stubborness - in fact, I've been really amazed at how cooperative he's been with this. I had just decided to call it a day (maybe a week) and check email, surf the web, etc.

So as I'm typing this, here comes Son #3 asking whether he can do math instead of circles (handwriting). Sure, I say. We manage to do math, phonics and religion. I was picking up his books when he said, "I'm ready to do my circles now."

Just goes to show you how much *I'm* learning in homeschool. I ran into an obstacle (Son #3) and I was ready to pack it in for the day. All he really wanted was to shake up the order in which we do things. Well, duh... why didn't I think of that? (Next time, I will!)