Day of Anomalies

Kids didn’t have school today and it sort of threw everyone out of whack…

Drew and Sam were taking turns riding in the tractor with Daddy, Drew this morning then Sam after lunch. After naptime I took Drew out to trade places with Sam but as I pulled into the field, Drew started sobbing and looked terrified. This is a child whose favorite job on the farm is scraping poop in the barn and I was taking him out to do his second favorite job, spreading poop in a field. What the hell? I told him he didn’t have to go with Daddy, we’d just pick up Sam and go home, but he managed to calm himself down and let Daddy carry him to the tractor. Then he called me and asked if he could eat supper on the tractor with Daddy. Seriously? From crying about going to not wanting to leave and I got the crying end? Thanks.

Sam & Bridget and I took our neighbor’s dog, Jetta, on a walk when we got back. I asked Sam if he wanted to stop and ask a friend to ride bikes with him so that he didn’t have to wait for me and the stroller. He quickly rode to his friend Ben’s house and was disappointed that he wasn’t home. He then asked if he could go ask his friend Emily, who lives around the corner. Remember that Sam is typically very shy and not willing to ask anyone to do anything and now he wants to go ask a girl on a bike ride? Sadly, Emily wasn’t home either but he knew that another female classmate lived in our neighborhood so he took off for her house and knocked on the door but she wasn’t home either. Sad day for little Sam until I noticed another of his friend’s playing outside. I encouraged Sam to go ask Orion to ride bikes with him and he stopped by the house, made eye contact and waved, then rode away leaving Bridget and I standing there like idiots. Thanks.

Bridget has asked to go to the farm every time we’ve dropped a boy off today but has not thrown the screaming fit, which is strange and wonderful. She did achieve another anomaly today on our walk, however. For the first block of our walk, she was fascinated by Jetta and giggled and talked to him from her stroller. Then she pulled out a little princess coloring book and multi-colored pen and colored for the rest of our trip. What the hell? But honestly, thanks Bridget.

I don’t know if this is an anomaly but I feel like I should mention it. Remember when I scolded people for wearing inappropriate things in public and proclaimed that I always try to look appropriate? Well, I just walked around our neighborhood in sweat pants with the saggiest butt ever and haven’t showered. Thank goodness we got home before most of our neighbors got home from work but I was still embarrassed.  Now I must go shower and put on something that fits!

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#*&@ My Kids Say

Bridget got my water bottle out of the fridge and took a drink. I informed her that she was drinking out my water bottle and she replied “Me drinkin it though.” Yes ma’am, I guess you are.

Drew called his friend Blake last night to invite him over after school but got their answering machine. I was trying to guide him on what to say but this was his recorded message, “Blake, please call Drew…after the beep.”

Blake and Drew eventually connected on the phone and Drew asked him to come over and play after school. Blake said he wanted to and they both hung up. Three minutes later the phone rang and Blake’s mom was laughing on the other end. Blake had told his mom, “Drew wants me to come over but I don’t know when.” I love 5-year-olds.

Bridget was holding a package of gummy worms in the car this morning, in anticipation of decorating cupcakes when the boys and their friends get home from school. When we got home I noticed that the bag was open and asked Bridget about it. Her response, “Me…I just open it a little tiny bit.” Is it wrong that I’m sad that she is starting to correct her grammar from “me” to “I”?

I entered the boys’ room to kiss them good night and Sam shouts out, “Well fancy seeing you here!”

Sam to Drew. “You know, you don’t have to talk about poop and the farm all the time. All you want to do is go to the farm, watch cartoons, and play Wii. You should find something else to do.” Wow, wonder where he’s heard that?

Drew, “Can Grandpa come over and play tomorrow?”

I told the kids that I had a phone interview with someone in Los Angeles, California yesterday and Drew gaped at me and asked, “You have to drive all the way there in one day?”

Before I could respond, Sam answered him with “No, Drew, California is even farther away than the farm plus Grandma’s house.”

Bridget to Grandpa, “No Bumpa, me talking to Nama.”

Drew called Grandpa earlier this week to give him directions to his classroom. In the midst of his convoluted explanation, he interrupted himself to ask me, “Is this my left arm? Ok, Grandpa, you turn this way” (while pointing with his left hand).

Sam told Bridget this morning that her new name was “Princess Crazy Hair”…I think there might be a good title for a story…hhmmmm….

Good Enough Mom

Everyone has days when nothing seems to go right and you feel like you’ve failed in every aspect of life. Today was a day when I felt like I was doing just fine and, as those are rare, I want to commemorate it.

I was up and showered before the kids needed to be up, which as a stay-at-home mom isn’t always a priority. The boys had silly sock day at school and I managed to find them something to wear, thank goodness, and we were only almost late after spending 5 minutes tucking the pants into the socks.

Bridget was dropped off at the sitter with no crying, a godsend, and I went back to the school to help in the school store. Six very responsible and well-mannered 5th graders manned the store while I supervised; helping kindergartners pick out toys really brought out the adult best in the kids. My only regret of the morning was watching Drew buy 3 more silly bands…ugh.

Ran a few errands, gave my mother-in-law my sympathetic ear for a little bit longer than I planned, and picked up Bridget before lunch. For a child who wasn’t sure about going to the sitter’s house, she certainly didn’t want to leave. As we walked out the door she told me, “That nice Audi, yea.”

Got some work done while she napped (and watched one episode of General Hospital) and then played with her a little bit before the boys got home.

Homework done and supper in the oven before 5, watched the boys play Wii and Bridget play with stickers while I worked out. Working out is hard to fit into my schedule with Bridget the snack-nabber so it was great to have the boys home to supervise.

Everyone has been read to, everyone got to tell me about their day, I sold an article and applied for 2 freelance jobs and supper is not hot dogs and macaroni (although I do contend that it is a perfectly fine meal).

I may not be the best mom but, for today at least, I’m good enough.

Grown-ups Should Act Like Grown-ups

These posts have gotten a little serious lately so today I’m all about humor. Everyone needs a little laughter every day so here is my attempt to get a giggle.

Things I have noticed grown-ups doing lately:

A woman in Hobby Lobby was asking for a job application wearing sweats and a grungy ponytail. In my opinion, asking for an application is your first chance to make a good impression on a future employer and you should prepare yourself accordingly. If you don’t have the money for an “interview” outfit, you can at least make sure your hair and face are clean and put together. For real, this woman looked like she had just rolled out of bed.

Another woman in Hobby Lobby was sporting a Tweety Bird tattoo on her calf that must have been 4 inches tall. I understand the urge to get a tattoo and can even almost understand that sometimes you aren’t thinking about the rest of your life when you choose a design but I do think you should consider tattoo placement. Do you really want to be 70 years old and flashing Tweety Bird all summer?

Picking my kids up from school, I noticed a grandmotherly sort picking up a child. She was wearing a maroon fleece jacket with Tweety Bird embroidered on the left chest. The grandmother, not the little girl, was wearing Tweety Bird….. I think there should be an age limit on purchases of clothing with Disney or other cartoon characters, punishable by a fine. I’d cut some slack on pajamas if everyone would promise not to wear them outside the house but I don’t think people would abide by this rule.

In fact, I know people like to wear pajamas outside the house because I saw a man in pajama pants in Target today. To his credit, he and his wife had newborn twins and a 2-year-old little boy so I’m sure he was exhausted but changing into sweatpants would be preferable to the plaid flannel when in public.

I felt a little bit like a 10-year-old today when I noticed a gentleman riding his bike along a busy thoroughfare in Cedar Falls with almost his entire bottom hanging out of his pants. I don’t mean that his crack was showing because, let’s be honest, almost every one of us has flashed some crack at times. I am telling you that more than half of his butt was perfectly visible as he pedaled. His pants weren’t moving, his shirt wasn’t semi-covering as his legs pumped, his butt was simply hanging out. It is chilly today so he had to have noticed that his rear was cold but he either didn’t care or couldn’t do anything about and decided to just go with it. Either way, we were lucky to avoid an accident because I was giggling and gawking like a 5th grader.

Other silly things

I have created a monster and have no one to blame but myself. Bridget and I stopped at Target today because I had coupons (and I actually used them!) for detergent and such. I also wanted to get the kids some plain long sleeve t-shirts for layering but got just a little bit sidetracked in the little girls department. I picked up an adorable polka dot shirt and said, “Oh this is cute, Bridget, do you like this?” Of course she did so in the cart it went. She then asked for a dress and some jammies but I told her no and pushed her over to the boys section. We found the boys some shirts and started to walk toward the checkout area but some plum purple corduroy pants caught my attention. I stupidly picked them up and Bridget immediately said, “Those cute, me really want those.” Damnit! Luckily, or unluckily depending on your perspective, they were on clearance so I got them…and another matching polka dot shirt. Damnit.

One more Bridget story for today: we found some pink and princess socks in the Dollar Spot when we entered Target which she carried throughout the store and retrieved as soon as they had been scanned at checkout. After placing our bags in the van, we put the cart back and I carried her back to the van. As we walked, she started singing “my pink socks…my 2 matching pink socks….match 2 pink socks” in the most hilarious sing-song voice. I laughed and she stopped and looked me right in the eye and said “No laugh Mommy, not funny.”

I told her that I really liked her song and she said, “No laugh, not funny song….just happy song.” Stinker.

Drew strutted around book club on Tuesday with his jammie pants pulled up to armpants declaring “I’m big pants guy” in a carton superhero voice. Those in attendance who didn’t know my kids very well got the very best introduction to my Drewster.

While I mowed the leaves in the yard this week, I asked Sam to take a broom and sweep all the leaves off the deck and cement so I could mow them up. After each section was completed, he would come ask me if I had “any more impossible jobs” for him to do. Once he was done, I kept catching glimpses of red as I mowed and couldn’t figure out where he was or what he was doing but I noticed that little orange cones were appearing all over the yard. The little turd was running all over the yard like a spy, trying not be seen while placing orange cones in various places. He continued to run and hide while I visited with our neighbors, peeking his cute little face out periodically to make sure we were still playing along and pretending not to see him.

 

Facebook friends, I have a question for you: how often do you scroll through your Friend list and eliminate people? Do you “unfriend” people who post mean or snotty comments or those that post too much information? Have you ever unfriended someone because they hurt your feelings or offended you in some way? How do you decide who to accept, delete or keep? I’ve been told that I need to be more selective and I’m wondering what the general consensus is….

 

I Like to Win

I would like to add an addendum or revision to my blog of yesterday because I don’t think my motives for the goals expressed in that blog are what I thought they were. I think it all comes down to competitiveness because I want to win…at everything.

I have trouble letting my kids beat me in a race, a board game, or a battle of wills and, in fact, I very rarely let them win. I raced Bridget to some flowers this morning and beat her. When Sam was learning to play checkers I might have offered him some guidance but I certainly didn’t take it easy on him and now he beats me fair and square, which is highly irritating. Drew loves to play card games and I don’t really feel that bad when I slaughter him in Double Solitaire. It’s a good life lesson, I tell myself, because I hate to lose.

I’ve noticed that Sam has inherited this trait, as evidenced by his play on the soccer field. I have to tell you that he is a really good soccer player, very fast and able to see the field pretty well for a 7-year-old and has great ball control. Many of the teams they have faced this year haven’t been terribly organized or coordinated so he has been able to almost score at will. There was one good kid on the team they played last Saturday who stopped his fast break a couple of times and blocked a goal kick. I watched Sam the next time he approached this kid and saw the determination on his face as he lifted the ball and scored right over his head. Sam’s reaction was priceless and he continued to take the ball right at the best kid on the team and beat him.

Revisiting the goals I expounded on yesterday, they can all be explained within this context. I want people to like me because then I win. When the checkout lady smiles and chats with me, then I won the challenge set forth in my head. The same goes for being the favorite in my kids’ classrooms because everyone knows there is an unspoken contest between school volunteers. Ok, maybe that’s just me but there really should be a poll given to students at the end the semester allowing them to rank volunteers. Can you imagine the responses you would get from kindergartners?

Obviously if I am the favorite aunt then I win and that is truly a competition. My oldest nephew is 19 (!) so I have been running that race for 19 years and winning with at least most of my 15 nieces and nephews. Don’t get me wrong, I really do enjoy spending time with them and want to know each of them as individuals. I don’t spend time with them to win the aunt competition, however, if I have to go the extra step and allow them to watch a movie with dinner to cement my status as favorite, I will do it.

Finding commonalities between myself and others boils down to the challenge in my head again; I win the contest that only I knew I was competing in. Who cares if I was the only contestant, I won! And I honestly get that little thrill of victory in my stomach….sad.

Appropriate clothing is another of the silly competitions in my head but I go ahead and rank the other people in attendance according to appropriateness, fit, and style. Listen, I don’t always win this one but I will keep trying! FYI: I purposely used the word rank rather than judge because I don’t hold inappropriate dress someone, I’m simply ranking for my own future reference. And just in case they ask my opinion, I want to be ready.

Right now I am using my competitive spirit to maintain my trek down the high road. If I can remain the better person then I win, no matter what else happens. If I can’t win the “everybody like me” game then I need to at least win the “I did the right thing” portion of the contest.

It’s sad, really, but it affirms my belief that I need an athletic outlet for my crazy. When Blair finishes building the racquetball court at the farm and installs my volleyball net and basketball hoop, I’m hoping to have an open gym for volleyball, anyone interested?

Be warned, I will not be hitting the ball lightly at children or the elderly and will take great pleasure in hurting my shoulder while pretending I’m still in shape.

By the way, you should all know that I won the best wife contest today by providing the best lunch any farmer ever ate on a tractor so today’s contest is over, you don’t have to keep trying.

Yep, I love to win even if it means: extra work for no praise, keeping my snotty comments to myself, putting on a happy face, or outrunning my child. It might be sad but it’s my truth.

 

Stupid Goals

My goal of simply letting things go isn’t working out as well as I had hoped and I think I’ve discovered the culprit: I have stupid goals. Not that this particular goal is stupid but all of my auxiliary goals are impeding my progress in letting things go.

One of my goals is to be liked by everyone. This is probably not an uncommon desire but I truly mean everyone. I want to be the favorite volunteer in the kindergarten classroom and the most sought-after companion at the second grade lunch table. I need for the Walmart checkout person to smile and chat with me and wish we knew each other better. This goal gets ever more pronounced if said checkout person is surly or uncommunicative with the shopper ahead of me.

Of course this wish extends to family, friends, neighbors, cousins, nieces & nephews. I tend to be the conciliator even though I’m not a middle child. I don’t see any reason that we can’t all be honest but in a polite manner and realize that we love each other and at the very least maintain common courtesy.

I work hard, as evidenced by craft day, to be the favorite aunt. I don’t do it to feed my ego but to ensure that each niece and nephew feels comfortable coming to me with anything they need to talk about. Craft time is really a ruse to get them talking about friends and feelings because I’m sneaky like that. Plus, I really enjoy being the one they run to for hugs and kisses!

An addendum to this goal is my weird tendency to attempt to find something in common with every person I come into contact with. I remember, with embarrassment, excitedly telling a classmate at my 10-year reunion that my husband drives big machinery too! Who cares? I lambasted another classmate at the 15-year reunion with my story about trying to cut back on cheese and lose tummy weight because he is a weight-loss consultant (or something like that). He quite obviously didn’t care but I couldn’t seem to shut up!
When I meet new people, I ask a lot of questions because I truly want to learn about him or her but I am also subconsciously searching for the commonality that I just know is waiting to be discovered. At some point I will have to accept that most people don’t care about whatever little tidbit we have in common….because I know there is one!

Another strange goal is to be the most appropriately dressed person at any function. Not the cutest, sexiest or most fashionable but the most appropriate. I don’t limit myself to dressing appropriately for nights at the theater or funerals but silly things like classroom volunteering and family dinners. I’m thankful that my mom taught me how to dress appropriately for most occasions but does anyone at Target really care what I’m wearing? Probably not and I know the kindergartners don’t care.

Do you see how these frankly stupid goals are impeding my ability to stop worrying and let things go? I am so concerned with finding common ground, being polite and likeable, and assessing the appropriateness of my attire that I simply don’t have time to forget about slights and those who don’t like. Maybe I’ll change my goal of letting it go to a challenge of earning every person’s respect if not love.

 

 

Brink

Four years ago this month, a super-nerdy goal of mine came true. I had always wanted to be involved in a book club but didn’t know anyone that was involved in one so I decided to start my own. Calling our group Brink (it’s a long story), I sent out invitations and hoped for a positive response from my friends who may not have realized yet what a book nerd I am.

Our first meeting was a rousing success, mainly due to my book choice “My Sister’s Keeper” by Jodi Picoult. It is hard not to have a passionate discussion about this book and I highly recommend it if you haven’t read it. I don’t, however, recommend the movie because I hear it is vastly different from the book but I digress…

The members of our group have fluctuated over the years and I use the term members lightly. We are not a very disciplined group and we don’t follow a lot of rules. In fact, if you haven’t read the book and just want to come visit with everyone, that’s fine. If you have seen the Hallmark or Lifetime movie version of the book, join the discussion. If you prefer to listen and not comment on the book, we would allow it, although I don’t think we’ve ever had that happen. If you miss 6 meetings, you may be harassed and might even get a cupcake to the face, but we will welcome you back. New members are encouraged to join us and I hope we make each person feel valued and welcome.

Our book choices are not dictated by anything other than the whims of the hostess for the month, which has led us into a wide range of books. Nicholas Sparks to Toni Morrison and everything in between have been read and sometimes enjoyed by our group. Sure, we’ve had a couple of books that no one liked and some that didn’t lend themselves to discussion but overall we have acquitted ourselves well as book reviewers.

There is a lot of pressure inherent in choosing a book and it is one of my favorite things about book club. I get to choose a book and tell my friends to read it and they sort of have to, I love it! One member regretted her first book choice and spent almost an entire year researching and gathering opinions about her next choice.

On top of choosing a book that will please everyone and spark interesting debate, the hostess must stress over food and drink choices. Or maybe that’s just me. Some members tie their menu into the book’s theme, others go seasonal or just plain easy. One member even cons her friends and coworkers into preparing food for her! I hosted one meeting at a restaurant because I was so pregnant with Bridget that I couldn’t face cleaning my house or preparing food. I don’t remember much of the conversation that night because I was so busy slurping salsa in an attempt to induce labor, to no avail.

Oh the babies. 5 babies have been born to members since we started our club and each have attended at least one meeting to be cooed over and snuggled. Our club “mother” has given each of us valuable advice on soothing crying babies and demanding toddlers as well as dealing with adult children and their spouses.

Brink’s current members run the gamut from college professors to stay-at-home moms. We have computer and marketing analysts, communication directors and graphic designers, an RN and an insurance agent, as well as a writer (sort of) and a variety of jobs in-between. This amazing range of skills, talents, and interests lends fresh perspectives and ideas to our discussions and ensures that our meetings are never boring. We have a mother-daughter duo, sister-in-laws and both old and new friends, all of which add layers of dimension to our analysis of book themes and relationships. And of course our own personal dramas and relationships!

We informally set aside the first 30-45 minutes of each monthly meeting to catch up, tell funny kid stories, complain about jobs or husbands, and get snacks and drinks. Eventually, we start our book discussion with more than a few tangents into personal stories and community news-sharing.

I love knowing that at least once a month I will be surrounded my intelligent, wonderful women who will challenge my ideas and support my choices. I am so proud that we have met almost every month for 4 years; we don’t hold meetings in December or July because everyone is simply too busy. I am trying to hold on to the lesson that if you want something, you just need to go out and get it started. Don’t wait for someone to invite you along, send your own invitations and you never know where it will lead.

Tonight’s book is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, a book I highly recommend to any and all but especially my mother.

Happy reading everyone!