Friday, September 25, 2009

Tote My Weary Load. . .

Every morning, 7th Heaven rides her bike to school while I follow along on foot.

When we started this year, she made a new friend who lives between our house and the school. We meet her at the corner, and she rides with us the last two blocks.

As seven-year-olds are not adept at biking while carrying backpacks, I serve not only as an escort, but a pack-mule as well.

This morning, I was trudging along behind the girls, thinking about all the things I have to do today: go through the Declaration of Independence with Halfway Between (10 & 20), a visit to the junior college with the Edge (of 17), paperwork for Hubbalicious, lunch with 7th Heaven and the Second Graders, a laminating project for the teacher. And that should bring me up to Noon.

With two heavy backpacks on my back, I was losing the feeling in my fingers. . .is this what they mean by "toting the weary load?"

At our Momslikeme website, I'd given a pregnant mother who was feeling fat because she'd moved into a size 7 some advice:
"there is always someone for whom your shoes wouldn't be so bad to walk in. . ." I was not attempting to invalidate her feelings - they were her feelings! But I think we all have to stop every now and then and put things in perspective.

Then I started thinking about my oldest son, the firefighter: young, broke, expecting a baby and trying to get through school. He practices running into burning buildings with a hundred pounds of gear on his back! I quickly put my minor dilemma back in it's place.

We all have moments where we feel a little overwhelmed. Instead of complaining, sometimes you just have to hike up your load and keep on moving. And remember that there are people all around you who would consider your load to be pretty light!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Making Up is Hard to Do

We'd met on the back porch for coffee, but had happened to meander back to the bedroom at the same time.

I checked my cell phone to see if anyone had called, he brushed his teeth.

"Here, " he said as he walked around the other side of the bed, "I'll help you make this."

For over two decades, I've been the designated bed-maker. I don't mind it, it's my thing I do. I'm probably the only one in my house who can't stand an unmade bed, it will call to me. . .

"Thanks!" I said, meanwhile thinking to myself, "I love this guy!"

We pulled up sheet, blanket, spread. Then we collected pillows.

"Your pillow's wrong, flip it over please," he gave me "the look," so I explained, "You have to have the seams in the middle so we don't fight."

"That's silly. . ." he responded, but flipped the pillow anyway.

"No, I'm serious. I think that's what happened to my parents: faulty pillow placement!"

"That's just an old wives' tale!" he giggled.

"Well, how do you think I got to be an old wife?!"

Have fun!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Run, Mom, Run!

"Hey, you, over there!
I know about your kind. . .
You're like the Independent Network News on Channel Nine.
Everywhere that you go, no matter where you are at. . .I say, you talk about this and you talk about that!" - Run/DMC

"Hey, Mom. . ." it started as we pulled out of the driveway this morning. We had to deliver some equipment an hour and a half down the road and 7th Heaven had come along for the ride and the promise of a potential stop at "Awful House."

"Hey, Mom. . .I think I'm going to get hash browns. I love hash browns."

"That sounds fine, Sweetie."

"Hey, Mom. . .when you were a child like me, did you love hash browns?"

"Yep. I still like them occasion-"

"Hey, Mom. . .did they have 'The Flintstones' when you were a little girl?"

"Yes, they did. It was my favorite sh-"

"Hey, Mom. . .you know that guy, Barney. . .not like the dinosaur, but the one who hangs out with Fred. . ."

Let's see, 1 1/2 hours there, 1/2 hour to eat, 1 1/2 hours back equals about 210 minutes with a "Hey Mom" once every two minutes. . .105 "Hey Mom" s by my account.

As we approached our final exit, I interrupted her to sing that song to her. She stopped talking and looked at me with her big blue eyes. She took a deep breath.

"Hey, Mom. . .isn't that on Sissy's ipod?"

Forget DMC, I just want to Run!

Have fun!

Thursday, September 17, 2009


I'm not a crazy woman, but I play one in an online blog. . .

Some days, it does all of us well to remember the "Serenity Prayer:"

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I can't change
The courage to change the things I can
And the Wisdom to know the difference.

A woman has repeatedly called the city code enforcement because we have a travel trailer and boat in our driveway near the garage, and two long vehicles that block the sidewalk.

When we got the first call, we backed the vehicles up, to where they are almost IN the street, still partially blocking the sidewalk but leaving 6-8 feet in front of them to cross.

The code officer said it was fine, until she called again.

And again.

And again.

Now, they are issuing us a citation because of her complaints. We're trying to find somewhere else to park our boat and trailer, but in the meantime, I made her a sign and posted it in my front yard. I took it down today, because the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was all a matter of perspective. She didn't like her path being blocked on a public sidewalk and I didn't like someone telling me what to do in my own driveway.

I'm not necessarily proud of my ill-mannered outburst, but it sure felt good to get it off of my hormones:

Dear Nosey Busy-body,
We are working diligently to move our vehicles from our own damn property! Despite the fact that dozens of other people in this neighborhood park blocking the sidewalks and those of us with lives simply walk around them, you’ve singled us out for excessive complaint to satisfy your need to blather rather than stepping three feet out of your self-important way. I am sure that, once we have satisfied your nonsensical fixation, you will find someone else to harass with your inane griping. Our only consolation in this matter is that, while you are violating our right to park our legally registered vehicles in our own driveway, you are stuck being a malcontent shrew. Karma is a b---h :)

Monday, August 31, 2009

Stuck In the Middle

"Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right -
Here I am, stuck in the middle with you." - Stealers Wheel

I think I've finally reached "middle age."

It has nothing to do with a number, either.

Black Jack (21), on the brink of being a father himself, is coming to me for advice about parenting and direction. Plus, I'm concerned about my own Mom and some issues she's dealing with. And, I'm worried about my grandparents, who are in the process of packing their home (and a shoe collection that would make Imelda Marcos envious!) of 20 years and moving halfway across the country. It's really weird!

It feels like just yesterday, I was a "young Mother" with "young Mother" issues - a messy home, a messy life - and I looked to others for suggestions and advice. I could just blame everything on my kids and be done with it. And people understood.

But now, they're coming at me from all sides and I'm stuck in the middle. It's quite scary to be the competent one!!!

I don't still feel like I'm a teenager or anything, but I'm not sure that I'm ready to fully embrace the responsibility that comes with being so dang grown up!

What's a girl to do when she's stuck in the middle? Why, turn up the radio and dance, of course!

"Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right - here I am!"

Have fun!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Basket Case

"Do you have the time to listen to me whine about nothing and everything all at once?" - Greenday

I had to take a break from cleaning out my closet. Where does all this crap come from?

I have clothing ranging from size 14 back down to size ten. . .the tens are all too big now, but I refuse to buy anything smaller for fear I'll jinx myself.

There are boxes of "keepsakes" - birthday cards and pictures mixed in with random school papers that "eventually" (yeah, whatever!) are supposed to wind up in the kids' scrapbooks.

I have a baby book for Black Jack (21) with every milestone carefully recorded up through the age of four. Coincidentally, that's when his sister came along. The Edge (of 17) also has a baby book - with a few notes and pictures and a bunch of random stuff jammed into the pockets. I purchased a book for Halfway Between (10 & 20) - it's still wrapped in cellophane and sitting on top of the water heater in the laundry room next to the ziploc bag containing his hospital bracelet. Seventh Heaven has a shoe box. . . somewhere.

I'm not really sure what the point of saving all of it is - I imagine I'll start handing it out as they move off and establish their own households, so that it can sit in baskets in top of their closets and free up mine for all of those size sixes I'm aiming for.

The other night Black Jack and his affianced came over and I handed him the tiny bomber jacket he'd worn as a baby. He pointed out that it had his brother's name written inside with permanent marker.

"You got lucky being the first kid. . .no hand-me-downs!"

Oh, but that's all about to change. I've got baskets of stuff of his that I've saved all these years, just waiting for him to establish a life of his own for which I can jump-start his clutter collection.

Hmmmmm. . .I wonder if he can wear a lovely red formal in a size 14?? Basket cases don't fall far from the tree, you know.

Have fun!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sock it to Me!

When Halfway Between (10 & 20) was in kindergarten, he wore a 3-piece suit to school. He carried a brief case. He insisted the lady who cut his hair "make it look like a Blue Angel." He wore no socks.

He hated socks, claiming they "made his toes all curly!" I purchased socks with characters on them, thin dress socks, seamless socks. . .all to no avail. Every morning it was a fight over the dang socks. Finally, I decided that there was really no harm in letting him go without. (I hit the little loafers with an occasional shot of Lysol just to be on the safe side.) Otherwise, he cut quite the smashing figure for a guy who was only three and a half feet tall and sockless.

One morning on our way to class, we stopped to tie his shoe. As he lifted his pant-leg, one of the other teachers walked by and said, "MY GOD! That child has no SOCKS! I can't BELIEVE his MOTHER wouldn't make him wear SOCKS!"

I felt like such a heel. I mumbled something about curly toes, grabbed him by his little briefcase and made a hasty getaway. I was not always as blase' about the criticism of others as I am now.

Ten years later, we're back at the same elementary school and I exchange a wave and a smile with the same teacher on occasion.   (I should tell her next time I see her that he now wears socks, although they are not always a matching pair. . .)

I share this story with you today, dear reader, to illustrate a point. No matter how competent you feel in your parenting decisions, there is always going to be someone who will question you. You really have to learn to let it roll off your back.

The truth is that people are constantly making judgements about others. Sometimes they are positive ("What a cute dress!") and sometimes they are not ("You let her go shopping in a torn-up, marker-stained Snow White costume??") I do it, you do it, it's human nature. Some of us have just learned to exercise more control and to be more aware of how our comments can affect others.

If you remember that the person delivering the admonishing remark is a person like you are, who has likely made their own share of bad calls (my Great-Grandmother used to say, "Consider the source!") it helps to take some of the sting out of their comments. And hopefully, when you feel compelled to pass some bit of "helpful advice" on to another mother, you'll remember to choose your words carefully (or perhaps just offer an encouraging smile instead!)

We are not, by virtue of childbirth, really expected to be perfect you know.

As a matter of fact, I could tell you a few stories that would knock your socks off!

Have fun!

Friday, August 21, 2009

It's Close to Midnight. . .

"Hey Mom, you know what time it is?" Halfway Between (10 & 20) asked as he walked in the front door this afternoon.

"Yeah, baby, about quarter till six. . ."

"No, it's time to par-tay!" He was downright giddy.

"Well, not until I call the hostess and speak to her parents."

"Can I stay until midnight? That's when the party's over!" He went to the computer to look up the number.

"I don't know about all that. . ."

"Mom, he's going to be fine. He NEVER gets into any trouble, and he's six feet tall!" The Edge of Seventeen came to her brother's defense.

"YOU stay out of this!" I pointed to her, grinning.

"Why do you have to call, Mom? Geesh! You did the same things to me. . . 'Where are you going? Who are you going with? Who else is going to be there?'" She was giving my words a nyah nyah voice.

"Exactly. And look how YOU turned out!" I turned, leaving her indignant, "MOM!" hanging in my wake. . .

"Have you got the number, Son? Thanks. Hello?" I identified myself and spoke to the lady on the other end of the line.

"I'm so glad to hear from some parents!" she said. "You wouldn't believe how many people will just drop their kids off at a party!" We exchanged pleasantries, established that there would be supervision and rules, and I felt much better about letting him go. I said goodbye and turned to meet his expectant gaze.

"So, can I stay until midnight?" He asked excitedly.

"Eleven." I said, then interrupted before he could utter his protest, "Unless you'd prefer earlier. . ."

"Nope, eleven is fine, Mom. Thanks."

Sigh, they grow up so fast. . .now, how in the HECK am I going to stay up until ELEVEN?!

Have fun!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

It's This Economy. . .

It doesn't matter what issue or problem you've encountered today, someone standing nearby will have a reason to blame it on the economy.

In Wally World, I commented: "Wow, the lines are really long today. . ." The lady behind me: "It's this economy!"

On the phone with my son: "I hope you get the job!" His response: "Well, with this economy. . ."

If "this economy" wasn't so bad, I'd be much better looking. . .and possibly cleaner, I just know it!

I'm getting ready to send 7th Heaven to second grade on Monday. In years past, the week before school has been a mad frenzy of haircuts and clothes shopping, pursuit of the "right" bookbag and matching lunchbox that will be used four times until it sets in that it's "cooler" to be a "trayer." This year is a little different, though.

First, the two teens are homeschooled. One of them actually does schoolwork in his boxers, the other in her pajama pants. They are beyond the need for new crayons, new socks, or the latest must-have character on everything they own. That makes it pretty easy.

7th Heaven has a closet full of clothes, some things she's worn twice if we were lucky. Her summer has been spent in a bathing suit or a long t-shirt. . .on the days when we talked her into wearing "clothes." I see no reason to go out and spend hundreds of dollars on jeans that will be too short before it gets cool enough for her to wear them.

We did go today and pick out a new t-shirt and skirt for the first day. . .and an I.Carly backpack. "What was wrong with her other backpack?!" Hubbalicious asked.

"It didn't have I.Carly on it, Daddy!" Well, you can't argue with THAT logic.

I don't feel too badly. I blew a total of thirty-five bucks on her, including the school supplies.

I was talking to a friend about this earlier. "Oh, I know!" she said. "I can't afford to buy ANYTHING extra. . .I gave them each a hundred bucks for clothes and told them that was IT! It's this ECONOMY, you know!"

Well, while you're forking out three hundred bucks for the latest styles, we'll be here in our boxers and pjs, and one ten-dollar I.Carly backpack, looking stylish in our frugality.

And it's not "this economy" - it's just that I am getting smarter in my old age.

Have fun!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Let it Be

"When I find myself in times of trouble,
Mother Mary comes to me. . ." - The Beatles

We've been worrying over a big business decision for a couple of weeks now. After a fitful night last night, I decided to take a walk this morning and just think.

I didn't worry about running, I just walked and breathed in the cool but humid air that preceded the pending tropical storm. And I pondered our plight.

I talked to my stepDad in my head. He's been gone for a year and a half now, but he still always offers me the best advice. "Lollipop, let it be. . .things will work out, or they won't. You'll just have to keep going, regardless."

Well, THAT made me start thinking of the Beatles' song. I walked in time to the words, "Let it be. Let it be. There will be an answer, let it be."

By the time I'd made it back home, there was peace in my heart and strength in my resolve. I would stand by my husband, and everything would be fine, no matter what happened.

I decided I'd pull some pork chops out of the freezer and marinate them. I had to go out to the travel trailer to recover the bottle of "jerk" marinade I remembered we'd taken on our last camping trip, and I noticed my husband was over at the neighbor's house, helping her move a statue.

What a sweet guy I'm married to, always helping with something. . . I thought to myself.

A few minutes later, I was back in the kitchen, poking my chops, when Hubbalicious came limping through the house hurriedly. "It's broken!" he exclaimed, as he headed to the back porch.

"What happened?!" I followed him out, and waited for him to take a few puffs off of his cigarette. His foot was blue and bleeding.

"I dropped Mother Mary on my damn foot!"

If you can't see the irony in all of this, then Heaven help you!

Later, as we waited for the doctor to come in to the small room, I sang a little tune to my husband:

"When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me,
Crashing on my small toe, let it be, let it be. . ."

Hey, at least it took our minds off of our worries for a bit!

Have fun!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Mea Culpa Momma

"What else could I write?
I don't have the right.
What else should I be?
All Apologies." - Nirvana

I've noticed lately that most of my maternal encounters begin with an apology.

"Come on in, sorry about the mess."

"It's great to hear from you, sorry I didn't ever call you back that time I said I'd call you right back five years ago."

"I'm sorry we never got together for lunch this Summer. . .or last Summer."

"I'm sorry, she hasn't had her shots."

"Excuse the way I look, I've decided mascara and lipstick add six ounces to my weight."

"I'm sorry, they were raised better than this. . ."

Do you feel like, as a mother, you're constantly apologizing for EVERYTHING? Why do we do that? Surely other mothers lead similarly hectic lives and understand why we're late, absent or askew. Do we really have to justify ourselves to each other all the time?

Maybe I should just get a t-shirt that says, "Mea Culpa Momma!"

My goal in the next week is to stop this recompense roller coaster.

My emails will simply begin, "I'd forgotten all about you, but now I need a favor!"

I'll answer the door with a brazen lack of remorse, "Welcome to my home, enter at your own risk!"

And I'll just pretend that my kids belong to someone else when we're out in public. ("What kind of mother raised THAT bunch of monkeys?" I'll inquire of fellow incredulous bystanders.)

That's it, I'm done with living a life of constant atonement!

(And if I've forgotten my goal by this afternoon, well, I'm sorry. . .)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Dishing it Out

How many teenagers does it take to empty a dishwasher?

Two. One to announce he's suddenly got to go to the bathroom and one to offer her little sister half a pack of Shock Tarts to do it for her.

Thanks for letting me unload on you. . .

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Dying To Grow Up!

"Some day I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dyin', like tomorrow was a gift. . ." - Tim McGraw

"Do you have anything on nine year olds who ACT like they are teens? Sometimes I think I could lose my mind!" One of the Moms at the Momslikeme website asked me this question.

So today, I'm devoting this blog to you, oh Mindless One. The only thing you need to have on a nine year old who acts like a teen is duct tape. . .and maybe a couple of staples. That's all I'm saying!

Seriously, it seems sometimes like our "little ones" are in a mad rush to grow up. They can't see the value in cherishing the days, and instead often wish away the years. No matter how hard you try to hang on, they just keep pulling away!

I was in Wally World with 7th Heaven today going through our usual routine: Can-I-have-it-NO! She picked up a mini Etch-A-Sketch at the checkout and informed me she was dying to have it.

"Dying? Really?"

"Okay, not really 'dying.' But I TOTALLY want one of these!"

"Well, next time, you should bring your money. Then you can buy it for yourself," I suggested.

"Oh, no. I'm saving my money!" She said.

"That's a great idea. Save your money then you can buy something you REALLY want."

"Yeah, I'm gettin' a cell phone! That's what I'm REALLY dying to have!"

The cashier looked at me sympathetically and said, "They grow up quick!"

Too quickly, if you ask me. I feel like I am leaving finger-nail tracks in the very fabric of time when it comes to my kids.

I looked at 7th Heaven, with her knobby knees and her crooked, freckled grin and had a momentary flashback to her older sister, who is now Seventeen and driving (me crazy!) and dying to get out on her own.

"Baby, you're Seven, let's just enjoy that for a while. . ."

"Yeah, but I'm ALMOST Eight!"

The truth is, you're not going to win in the game of Mom v. Time. Unfortunately, it isn't until we become parents ourselves that we really begin to understand how quickly the time goes by. All you can do is to catch a little moment here and there and make the most of it. I think I'll go grab her Seven-ness and challenge her to a game of Go-Fish.

I'm simply "dying" to play. . .

Have fun!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Lively Up Yourself

"Lively up yourself, and don't be no drag. . ." - Bob Marley

Okey dokey, the pity party is over.

When I find myself going down to funky town, it helps me to go for a walk. So I decided to alter my Saturday afternoon laundry gig and get out on the road.

I've been stepping up my usual walking routine by throwing in a little jogging. I don't go too fast. I know it's a little silly, but I find that keeping a reggae beat in my head helps me maintain a good pace. Six months ago, if someone had told me I'd be jogging any more than the distance from the couch to the fridge, I'd have given them a hearty chuckle. But yep, that was me, be-bopping down the road today. I made three miles in thirty-five minutes!

My walks (now almost-jogs) give me time alone where I can just think. I thought about how unhappy I'd been with myself when I was trying to squeeze my size 14 body into a size 12 bridesmaid dress, and how great it felt six months later to have to trade the 12 in for a 10 the week before my sister's wedding. And how, three months beyond that, my size 10's are all a little loose in the waist.

I thought about how good it felt for my legs to be moving me down the sidewalk, how great the breeze felt on my sweaty face, and how I felt like I was in control of what I did with my own body.

And it hit me. My friend laVender would call it a "life lesson," a realization about one facet of my life that spills over into other areas.

If I can get my act together enough to change my habits and lose and keep off over thirty pounds, why should I let a little writer's block freak me out? Second to taking care of my family, writing is my life's passion. It's not something that controls me, it's something I control. An hour, a day, a week of feeling discouraged shouldn't prevent me from picking myself up and moving forward.

I literally filled today's unforgiving minute with thirty-five worth of distance run. And that's what my blog is all about. We mothers tend to beat ourselves up with self-doubt about everything. If we're not careful, it can consume us and leave us feeling helpless or hopeless, and that's no fun!

Instead of looking at our struggles as being a drag, we just need to take control and lively up.

So Much to Say

"I find sometimes it's easy to be myself.
Sometimes I find it better to be somebody else.
So much to say. . ." - Dave Matthews Band

We interrupt our regular blog for this moment of brutal honesty.

I guess this happens to all writers at one time or another.

I've written the "Teen Talk" blog at the and websites for well over two years now, considering it to be my therapy for dealing with my crazy kids. The minuscule stipend served as justification that I was being paid to write.

But here I am, almost six-hundred creations later - and I'm fizzled out, dried-up, blocked, stuck like Chuck. I just can't seem to do it anymore. The thrill is gone.

My Momsweb Mentor encouraged me to start another blog, independent of the constraints of "paid to write." And so, here we are. I've got the subject matter (four kids), I've got the readers (you & my Mom). . .but the motivation - where the heck did it go??

Seriously, I know I've just got to get into my groove and I'll be spewing all variety of entertaining anecdotes that will have you rolling on your keyboards. We're dragging through the waning lazy days of summer, about to resume our hectic fall schedules and activities - it's all there poised for the humorous re-telling.

So take heart, oh patient Mother, every blog has it's day. And I've got so much to say.

And now, back to the show. . .

Have fun!

Friday, August 7, 2009

They Call Me "Mom"

"They call me Jane.
That's not my name.
That's not my name.
That's not my name.
That's not my name." - The Ting Tings

When you have toddlers screaming "Mooooooom!" all day long, you dream of the day when they will all be out of the house and you'll be free of the oft-screamed moniker.

I'm sorry to report that it doesn't quite go down that way.

Yesterday afternoon, the phone rang. "Hey, Mom. . ." Black Jack (21) was discount shopping with his fiancee. Did I need an HDMI cable?

"No, thank you son. I've got one already. . ."


Five minutes later, the phone rang. "Hey, Mom. . ." It was Halfway Between (10&20) checking in from his friend's house. I asked him if he was coming home for dinner.

"What are we having?" I advised him it would be fend-for-yourself since Dad just gotten home from his root canal. "Nah. . .loveyoubye!"

Five minutes later, the phone rang. "Hey, Mom. . ." Black Jack wanted to know what we were having for dinner.

"It's fend-for-yourself tonight. . ." I replayed the root canal story.

"Oh, okay. Loveyoubye!"

Five minutes later, the phone rang. "Hey, Mom. . ." The Edge (of 17) was on break at work. What time was she going to be home?

"I'm closing. Ten-thirty. . .ish? Gotta go! Loveyoubye!"

Five minutes later, the phone rang. "Hey, Mom. . ." Black Jack had found Margarita Mix for only three bucks.

"Thanks, Sweetie, but hang on to your money. . .I'm fine, really. So, what are you doing?"

"I gotta go!"

"Why do you have to go?"

"I just hate it when you do that to me!"

"Do WHAT?"

"Nothing. . .I know what I mean." Well, that's good, at least one of us does! "Loveyoubye!"

Five minutes later, the phone rang. "Hey, Mom. . ." Halfway was leaving his friend's house and heading to the park. "Loveyoubye!"

I decided I was just going to turn my phone off. Five minutes later, 7th Heaven hollered from her room, "Hey, Moooooooom!"

I couldn't resist. I danced in and sang to her, "That's not my name. That's not my name. . ."

Have fun!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

It Happens!

"Life don't go quite like you planned it.
We try so hard to understand it.
The irrefutable, indisputable fact is. . .
Pssssh - it happens!" - Sugarland

Yep, some days it's just that way.

I woke up with a song in my heart and a smile on my face, ready to greet the day. I was a little late, but I figured I'd squeeze in a quick jog. However, first, I received some bad news, then some more bad news, but I was determined to deal with it accordingly and move on. By the time I got off the phone, I knew I needed to skip the walk and just get dressed.

I had to cancel a lunch meeting I'd looked forward to with a friend over a change in plans because hubbalicious had need of my help, and I was feeling so competent. Even the Edge (of 17) and her grumpy "you woke me up too early" attitude was not going to get to me.

The Mombus, with it's new brakes (two weeks ago) and it's new battery (last week) now apparently needs a new starter. So I set out in the "Teen Mobile" with it's rear-view mirror gee-gaws and rear-window surf stickers with plans of dropping 7th Heaven at art camp for four hours of moderate freedom.

We were sidetracked by an either drunk or medically troubled driver whom I passed, then I noted his violent swerving from lane to lane in the rearview. My civic responsibility got the better of me, so I called 911 and followed him at 25 MPH for twenty minutes until the Sheriff's deputies showed up.

The roads were once again safe, and we were once again on our way to art camp. However, when we arrived, no one was there. I later discovered (once I checked my stupid email!) that it had been canceled. Yes, yes, "Prior planning prevents pi$$ poor performance." - thank you.

Well, I'm not one to mope. Besides, I had "work to do." I arrived home, smeared on some lipgloss and asked his hubness where I was needed. "Thanks, sweetheart, but I'm not going to need anything. I've got it all taken care of."

So, here I am, halfway through my day and I've managed to. . .well. . .I made my bed. And folded a little laundry. And re-visited the quadratic formula with Algebra boy. I'm sure there are other household tasks awaiting my attention. Sigh.

I'm not complaining. After all, nobody was hurt in the making of this blog. We all have days like this. . .pssssh, it happens!

Have fun!!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Date Night: The Cure for What Ails You

I have a great marriage. I'm not bragging, I just do.

Both of us grew up with divorce and remarriage(s), we've had the good fortune of seeing the bad, and the very good, and have learned from our parents and step-parents about what it takes to make a marriage work. From the get-go we both felt like we would do whatever we had to do to keep our marriage intact. It has not always been smooth sailing, but the stormy seas have taught us to become skillful navigators.

It is crucial that we present a united front. I don't mean that we don't argue, because we have enthusiastic disputes quite often. But we have learned over the years that we're not going to see eye-to-eye about everything. On occasion, we've had to just agree to disagree and move on. (I love Michael J. Fox's take on marriage: "Keep the fights clean and the sex dirty!")

One way that we've managed to strengthen our bond is by cultivating "date night." Sometimes it's the cliche of a romantic dinner, sometimes it's a cuppa-joe at "W-Awful House," sometimes it's a clandestine rendezvous on the front porch. The place is not important, the company is!

Last night's "date night" was actually a business meeting of sorts. But we were alone, together, and focused on a common goal. I would not use the word "romantic" to describe it, but it did serve the purpose of unity on a cerebral level.

I hear many of my peers complain about what their husbands don't do. I've learned to celebrate the things that my husband DOES do. I feel as though he and I are complete partners in marriage, parenthood and running our household. He is the other half of me, and I'm not going to get anywhere by putting myself down.

I couldn't quite put my finger on the thing that wasn't "right" with me this week. But "date night" turned out to be the cure for what was ailing me. I'm ready, bring it on!

Marriage is more than raising kids, more than paying bills, even more than having sex (although, that's one of the perks. . .) It's about edifying your partner, celebrating their successes and encouraging them through the tough times.

When you're feeling overwhelmed with motherhood, it's a good time to go back to the source (in this case, my Baby-Daddy) and reinforce your focus.

I'm not the only married woman who holds this opinion. Here's another take on the importance of working together with your spouse, written this week by my good friend at Momsweb:

Have fun!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Let it Wane

"The sky is cryin'.
Can't you see the tears roll down the street?
I've been lookin' for my baby,
And I wonder where she can be." - Stevie Ray Vaughn

Yeah, I've got the blues.

Over the years, the thrill associated with being a mother can wax and wane. For the past few days, it's been a little waney around here. And I obviously have not waxed.

I've felt distant from my children, as though we're all just going through the motions. The Edge (of 17) comes and goes to work. Halfway Between (10 & 20) comes and goes to hang with his friends. For Black Jack (21), either things are going really smoothly or he's in jail, because he didn't return my call yesterday. Even 7th Heaven is otherwise occupied with all the Barbie stuff she rediscovered when she cleaned her room.

I always prided myself on those noisy family dinners where everyone tried to talk over each other. I secretly covet the tasteless jokes and random body noises while maintaining my scolding demeanor. Now, we're lucky to get three of us to the table - and with all the healthy food I'm serving, nobody has gas! It's sad.

I usually try and keep my blogs upbeat and jovial, but the truth is that it's not always like that around here. Sometimes, it can get downright lonely and a little boring. I throw on my Stevie CD and, well, does anyone have a tissue?

What I have found, though, is that the "downtime" is usually a precursor to some big to-do. There is another crisis lurking around the corner and I'll be called upon to duck into the proverbial phone booth and don my cape and tights. And then the good times (and even a few heads) are prone to roll!


I guess I'll go shave my legs. Tights look terrible with stubble sticking out.

Have fun!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Conversations in the Rearview

Some days, 7th Heaven can't make up her mind.

"Hey Mom, has it been three months?"

"Three months since what, baby?"

"Three months!"

"It's the end of July, the seventh month. . ."


"What are you getting at?" Halfway Between (10 & 20) chimed in.

"Stay out of this!" His sister fussed.

"Honey, we're just trying to figure out what you're talking about!" I was hoping to head off an argument. . .and figure out what the heck she was talking about!

"HAS-IT-BEEN-THREE-MONTHS?" She tried to spell it out.

"Do you mean summer?" Halfway was trying to be the interpreter.

"NO! I was a first-grader. Mom said it would be three months until I was a second grader."

"Oh. . ." Sometimes we Moms are a little slow on the uptake. "You have about three and a half weeks until school starts."

"Yeah!" she said. Then thought for a second, "Noooooooooooo!" Then a few seconds later, "Yeah!"

"Well, are you happy, or not?" her brother asked.

"Honestly, I'm just not sure!"

Sweetheart, honestly, neither are we!

Have fun!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Say My Name. . .

"Say my name, say my name.
You actin' kinda shady." -Destiny's Child

Y'all doing the shoulder thing with me? I have no rhythm. I think I gave myself a crick. But I digress. . .on to blog world. . .

"MOM!" The Edge hollered at me the other day as I was walking out the door.

"WHAT?! I'm walking out the door."

Her "person of interest" was on the phone and wanted to know how to address her father and me.

"'Most Beautiful and Intelligent Goddess of the World'. . .no, 'the UNIVERSE' would be appropriate for me. And Dad can be 'Dude.'"

Ha ha, he'll LOVE that! I thought to myself as I closed the door.

There are a few long-term family-friend kids who know me as "Miss Lara," but most of my kids' friends refer to me as Mrs. McKnight.

At first, it sounded a little stilted, but it's grown on me. Kinda like "Miss Jackson if you're nasty. . ." (Oops, there goes the shoulder again!)

So, now that Black Jack (21) has a fiancee, it's thrown me into a weird position. I call her to shoot the breeze on occasion. "Hey, it's. . ."

Who am I? Mrs. McKnight?

Your fiance's Mommy who loves him very very very much and will track you down and pull your hair if you do him wrong?

Lara? No, just using my first name didn't seem quite right, either. After all, I've got to maintain my "status."

"Hey, it's Me." Yeah, that will do it.

For the first ten years or so of our marriage, I would call my own Mother-in-law "Hi. How are you?" Or sometimes, I'd yank a passing kid into my lap and then could say, "Hey, Mamae, the baby wants to talk to you. . ." It's only lately that I've been comfortable with using her first name.

Fortunately my OTHER Mother-in-law is my age, so calling her by her name is no big deal. I call my Father-in-law long distance. :)

I guess I could make it easy on everyone and just come up with some cutsie nickname. In high school, I was "Doo." It was a shortened version of my maiden name. Fortunately, I didn't have any friends who stuttered.

My Mom calls me "Lollipop." I don't know. . .that's too close to "Sucker."

My husband sometimes calls me a "Mean Old B*%&!" and I have to set him straight. I am NOT old.

I don't know. Everyone else around here just calls me "MOOOOOOOOM!" There are days I regret starting that one going, not sure if I want that to be the norm.

So, what do you think, Dear Reader? What are your suggestions for referring to your potential future in-laws?

I still think that "Goddess" thing rocks, myself.

Have fun!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Is There Womb For Everybody?

"All that she want is another baby." - Ace of Base

That little ditty came out shortly before the arrival of our second child. I can remember Hubbalicious singing it to me while I was in labor with her. And my adoring response:

"Shut up!"

Things have sure changed since I first started having kids, 21 years ago. With my first, I had to have an emergency C-section. They put a mask over my face. The next thing I knew, someone was smearing Blistex on my lips and another someone kept trying to hand me this baby. "Take him, you'll like him!"

The second, also a c-section, was a little more entertaining. My husband stood overhead and gave my the play-by-play. "You should SEE what they're doing! This is SO cool!"

Number three was a VBAC. He was a breeze, in comparison to the first two. (An omen of things to come? One can only hope!)

By the time I got to my fourth child, I just went through the drive-through. What, I got fries with her. . .

We attended the arrival party for our newest family member last night. My husband's youngest sister lay in the bed looking uncomfortable while twenty people stood around the small room and shot the breeze. I leaned over and commented to my Father-in-law, "If I'd have known it was this kind of party, I'd have brought the Salsa. . ."

Fortunately, about the time that 7th Heaven started in with her latest round of questions ("Now, Mommy, where EXACTLY is that 'special place' the doctor gets the baby?") we were ushered out into the waiting room.

A short time later, we huddled around the video camera, watching my newest niece make her appearance as the final shreds of her mother's dignity were carefully hidden behind my Mother-in-law's head. "Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!"

We never did get to see the actual baby. It got late, the gang got restless(er) and we decided we'd pop back in once everyone was more "settled."

As we dive into the beginning of another "baby season" in our family (we've got three coming for sure and one "suspicious" one), I have to admit that I enjoy all the fuss and excitement, the stories and laughter we exchange amidst the anticipation and the comfort we take in knowing that everything came out okay in the end.

We dragged in pretty late, passed out the smooches and promptly hit the sack. The teens, more prone to late nights than their parents, hit the shower and the computer. As we lay there in the dark, drifting off to blissful slumber, my husband patted my stomach and made the comment, "I wonder what it's like to have a big ole' lump there, and then. . .it's just gone."

About that time, the hall light clicked on and Halfway Between stage-whispered, "Hey Mom!"

"Oh, no, dear. . .it's not gone. It's in the hallway and it apparently needs something. . ."

Have fun!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Don't Put Des-cartes Before the Horse

"I think, therefore I am. . .entitled." Rene Descartes' teenagers

I think that the parking lot at Wally World provides a good lesson in personal responsibility.

For years, now, it has been the privilege of the kid-on-hand to return the shopping basket to the designated area. We used it, therefore we should put it up. I guess you could say that I'm a big proponent of the philosophy that "descartes" go in "descartes return."

Yesterday, the task fell to 7th Heaven. She patiently waited while I unloaded my purchases into the Mombus, then took charge, "I've got this, Mom!"

"Watch for cars!"

She bopped back from her duties and loaded and locked herself into the seat. "Look at all those carts, Mom! Why don't people put them up?"

There were three carts in the empty space in front of my vehicle, and others scattered about the lot. "Well, dear, some people don't exercise personal responsibility. Do you know what that means?"

"It means taking care of your business, right Mommy?"

"Ex-spactly!" she giggled. The giggling ceased when I continued, "Kind of like keeping your room clean, picking up your Barbies off the living room floor, hanging up your towel. . ."

I looked up in the rear view in time to catch the eye roll.

She comes by it honestly. Her brothers and sister have their own issues with personal responsibility.

This morning, I prodded Halfway Between (10 & 20) from the comfort of his "sleep taco" (he wraps himself in the blanket, it's kinda cute) and sent him to put the Recycling can at the curb. "Son, it's your responsibility to get it out there. I know I've only mentioned this a few gazillion times. . ."

"Yes ma'am. . ."

"And stop on the way back to bed and put the dishes you used last night into the dishwasher."

"Yes ma'am. . ."

"And then you can pick up the clothes on your floor. . ."

He looked at me like I was Satan, then headed out on his appointed rounds.

You'd think after fifteen years, or seventeen years, or even twenty-one years of fairly consistent prodding, they'd get the idea that Mom isn't going to relent on the issue of personal responsibility. Don't get me wrong, I have my moments of weakness.

But, like Erma Bombeck says, "I'm going to stop punishing my children by saying, 'Never mind, I'll do it myself!'"

Hang in there, and have fun!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

There Is Water at the Bottom of the Ocean

"Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down." - Talking Heads

Where to begin?

Okay, well, the reason I often begin my blogs with a line from a song, I guess. I love a good musical - and have been known to randomly burst into song. Yes, that really does happen in real life. It's just a thing. Sure, it's weird. But it makes things more interesting. Imagine "Singing in the Rain" with no singing, that's all I'm saying.

This morning, I woke early and quietly, slammed back a couple of cups of coffee, checked my Facebook status and the Obituaries to make sure I was still here, then headed off to meet my friend at the corner for our walk.

In the distance, I saw a figure in blue, bending and stretching. "Oh, wow, my watch must be slow!" I thought to myself, then broke into a run. I hate to keep anyone waiting.

I made it two blocks before I gave out. I made myself jog another block before I realized it wasn't her.

An hour later, I was back at home, ready to take Halfway Between (10 & 20) and his buddy to their Robotics class at the college. I grabbed a glass of water and demonstrated my knowledge of robotics for my captive audience. They were not impressed with my attempt at popping and locking. The swinging arm did garner an uncomfortable grimace from the friend.

An hour later, I was back at home, ready to take 7th Heaven to her art camp. "Did you get my Portugal?" she asked.

It took me a minute. "Yes, here is your Port-FO-lio." I gathered some paperwork for my husband, ran down the list of errands and phone calls he needed me to handle, jumped into the shower for a quick rinse, and we hit the road.

An hour later, I was back at home, ready to eat a salad, write my blog and then run those errands. "Mommy, I need help!" the Edge (of 17 ) called from her room.

Two hours later, we had finished a deep, meaningful and occasionally tearful conversation about my pushing her to "dual enroll" at the community college for her last year of high school. She's been homeschooled for the last two years and we've been hashing and re-hashing options without any firm commitments. Finally, we agreed we'd go talk to the counselor tomorrow and make a game plan that was acceptable to both of us.

She went to take a shower, and I decided to check my email. I was reading a note from my aunt that a family member has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer when the Edge hollered, "MOM! There's no water!"

"What?!" Long story short (sorry, too late for that, I guess!) I'd paid all of our bills online before we went to Daytona at the end of last month. . .well, apparently with the exception of the water bill.


So, I took care of the bill, wrote an email response to my aunt, said a few prayers, revisited some questions I'm going to be asked on a podcast tomorrow on and fielded a phone call from my Mother-in-law.

"Y'all coming over tomorrow?" Huh?

"They're going to induce your sister-in-law." Just tell her to keep her legs crossed for ONE MORE DAY!

I didn't say that. "Of COURSE we'll be there. . ."

Feeling poopie, I decided to call my BFF from MFF (Get it? Moms Fighting Fat! There's a link to her page on my blog list - be sure to check out our podcast tomorrow!) I relayed the whole sordid mess to her.

Her compassionate response: "Sounds like a blog!"

And that is why I love her.

Needless to say, the water is back on, the baby is home, the Edge is freshly showered and on her way to work, and all is, for a moment, right with the world.

Sounds like a good time to sing and dance. . . Care to join me in the "Robot?"

Same as it ever was. . .same as it ever was. . .

Have fun!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Do You Like Kipling?

I don't know, I've never Kippled!

Ah, that's one of my favorite jokes. And the title of my blog is an homage to one of my favorite poems, "If" by Rudyard Kipling.

I mean, really, any poem that opens with, "If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you. . ." is certainly a good one for a mom to know. If you're not familiar with it, here's a link:

(Kipling is also responsible for "Jungle Book," "Rikki Tikki Tavi," "Captain's Courageous," and "Gunga Din.")

Raising children in a modern world can certainly be a challenge. I reckon every parent who has ever raised kids has thought the same of their "modern" world - after all, Kipling wrote "If" over a century ago.

We'd all like our kids to follow our advice, take heed of our warnings, become strong, compassionate, self-sufficient individuals. The truth is, though, that most of them are going to fight for their own way and believe that we are just there to "ruin their lives." Don't take it personally. It is what it is.

But some day, if we are very patient and very lucky, they will have teenagers of their own.

Sure, I've got the whole "Sixty seconds' worth of distance run" bit down. . .but I'm still counting the minutes until I hear those magical words: "Mom, you were right!"

Have fun!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Life Takes on a New Dimension

Four generations watching the Moon Launch, Titusville, Florida-1969

"You should have seen it in color. . ." - Jamey Johnson

A human being is climbing down a ladder, about to be the first Earthling set foot on the Moon.

"Y'all come watch this!" Hubbalicious called out to the kids.

"We're making milk shakes!" 7th Heaven responded from the kitchen.

"The whole world stopped to watch this forty years ago," I suggested as I stood between rooms.

"That was forty years ago!" The Edge (of Seventeen) hit the pulse button on the blender again, then hit several buttons on her cell phone. "Besides, it's all in black and white. I don't like to watch shows in black and white."

Maybe Halfway Between 10 & 20 would be interested. I walked down the hall and stuck my head into his room. "Come watch, they're showing the actual telecast of Armstrong walking on the moon!"

"Thanks, but I'm talking to my friend on Skype right now. . ."

"But this is a dude. . .walking on the moon!"

"In 1969. . ." he sang along, then returned to his computer "call."

"It's just my Mom, she wants me to come watch some lame show about the moon." Then he redeemed himself, "I love you, Mommy."

I guess they've seen too many movies, experienced too much "virtual reality" to find actual reality very interesting.

So Hubs and I sat alone watching "history" and understanding that we live in an amazing time, when people going into space is no big deal, you can instantly send a text to a friend, and talk to someone face-to-face on your computer.

Some day they'll sit watching their holographic images, trying to explain to their kids that life was still pretty amazing in 2-D. . .

Fine Home Design

There's a commercial on our local radio station featuring a sultry Southern lady who claims she can "Make yo' home look lahk a piture out of a maaaaagazine. . ."

That sounds lovely.

However, as I look around this morning, I think my home ALREADY looks like a picture out of a magazine!

The "Toys 'R' Us" catalog. . .

Have fun!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

All the Way to the Moon, and Back

I think it is fitting to launch my new blog on the eve of the anniversary of the Moon landing.

I can imagine how those guys felt, taking one small step for man and a giant leap for mankind. After all, that's how I felt the first time I held my own child. I had no idea what to expect, but I knew that it was going to be an adventure.

Now, years later, I reflect on those first moments of uncertainty and realize that I have learned so much - and that I still have miles to go!

I hope you'll take some comfort, dear reader, as I chronicle the daily chaos of raising my children, that we all have days when we'd like to send them straight to the moon. When they offer you whine, certainly you're inclined to serve up a little green cheese with it!

Just keep in mind that they have their moments, too, when you love them all the way to the moon, and back.

Have fun!