Friday, September 19, 2008

Do you really want to?

This morning there was a lot of chaos under this roof. There is always some chaos, but today there was an above average amount.

It was a no dress code day for my three grade schoolers, though my husband dressed them all in uniforms. When I came down the steps, they were crying and gnashing their teeth, and pleading with me to help.

I didn't know it was a no dress code day, my husband responded to the question, why are they in their uniforms?

The bus will be here any minute. There is no time for them to change.

I'll change them and take them to school today.

Do you really want to? he asks.

The teenager is not ready. She doesn't feel good and her pants are too long. Consequently, she is not ready to leave with her father.

Do you want to take her to school too?

On the way to school, she is crying, I'm going to be late, while Ethan speaks up from the back seat...

I forgot my library book, again. I promised I would bring it back today. I have to go home and get it.

We arrive at high school.

I'll call you when I'm done.

Oh, except I forgot my phone.

You don't mind if I take yours, do you?

We drop the little kids off in the car line and the vice principal wants to know why Ethan is getting out of the car?

Aren't you coming to school today she asks?

The library book story is recounted.

She assures him he can bring it on Monday, but he won't get out of the car.

My mom is going to take me home to get it.

She looks at me and asks, do you really want to?

As we make our second trip back to school, I contemplate all the times I have been asked the question DO I REALLY WANT TO? in the relatively short amount of time since I have been conscious. Each time, it was asked, I didn't really answer. I took it as more of hypothetical, thinking each time, do I really have choice?

When Ethan got out of the car, book in hand, obviously relieved that he wasn't going to have to avoid the librarian all day as his older sister suggested, I realized that the question wasn't a hypothetical. I could have let them go to school in their uniforms; could have made my husband drive daughter to school and get to work late; could have insisted that Ethan get out of the car the first time I drove school...

So I guess the answer is yes, I really do want to. Not that I enjoy necessarily driving around like a limo driver, picking up others slack, surrendering my cell phone at moments's not about the particulars. What I really want to do is help my family, and if something as simple second trip back home to get a forgotten book can make my son's day better, then yes, I really want to. If only all the worlds problems could be solved so easily.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Evidence

We did get into Martha's kitchen...
But you know what, I think I might like mine better. It's not as pretty, and it probably doesn't produce as good of food, but it's comfortable...

Truly, I am an idiot. What more can I say. You gotta take the good with the bad. Most times, I think the bad outweighs, but you'll have to be the judge

The Day is over, I'm smiling, and going to bed!!!!!!!!!

If you or kids haven't read this book,
go out and get it now. Just make sure
you get gas FIRST.

Read below. Then look here. Don't ask why. It's been a terrible horrible no good very bad day, It's 11:56 P.M., and for the first time in months, couldn't publish these pics below? When will it ever end. Hopefully 12:01a.m.? But who knows?

Laurie (ofthesevenstories) and the terrible horrible no good very bad day

Um, yeah... remember Alexander?

I do, as it was one of my favorite stories to read as a child. I think I probably liked hearing, like all kids do, that once in a while, everybody really has a terrible horrible no good very bad day...

Back then, like Alexander, I thought not getting the right color stripes on my sneakers was like a serious wrong. Not to minimize Alexander's tale. The message is universal. Sometimes a bad day is just bad,and there is nothing you can do to stop it. As a child, this is particularly true, because after all, you are in not control. You have to rely on the will of others. And sometimes things just snowball, and a day seems to go haywire and out of control...

Unlike Alexander, I didn't wake up with gum in my hair, but I did wake up like super,super early this am. Like we're talking 1:40; 2:40; 3:40, and omigod, it's time to get ready. I had showered the night before. I laidout my clothes. I packed my camera;etc. in my purse, so I'd be ready to go.

The GPS was loaded, and I was headed to meet fellow local blogger, Sarah, of Genisis Moments so that we could meet Beth, of Total Mom Haircut to attend the Martha Stewart Show in NYC to see her special on bloggers. From 3:40 on, I scampered and scurried as fast as I could to get to Sarah to pick her up so that we could head to NYC via the Trenton Train Station.

I got to Sarah's house at about quarter after five. She questioned whether we would make the train? I assured her that we would, thinking that absolutely that would be the case...

We were running two to three minutes behind the train we planned to take, but there were at least three or four others that would have been later, but still would have enabled us to get to the show. I drove fast. I followed the GPS. When the gas light came on, I figured, oh I've got time. How many times have I figured this and been fine? Oh, probably 6512498543215455 billion times, and I'm always fine.

Today, apparently, the 6512498543215456 billionth time, NOT.SO.MUCH.

That's right folks, one mile from the train station, WE.RAN.OUT.OF.GAS.

Sarah was upset, and rightfully so. She told me that she wished I would have stopped for gas the night before... What could I say except, "I'm sorry." Often and repeatedly.

I called AAA, and figured that they would be there quickly. I called Sarah a cab and thought she could go without me.

It took AAA 11/2 hours to find us. As it turned we literally were seconds from New Jersey, but technically in PA. As a result, the initial tow truck, coming with gas, turned around, stating that they didn't come to PA. Thanks so much for your help AAA. I'll definitely be renewing next year!

The cab, I called for Sarah, also never came. I don't even know why.

We called 911 New Jersey- but we were in PA; they told us to call the turnpike hotline- but we weren't on the turnpike- finally someone put me through to the police in PA.

90 minutes later, with absolutely no hope of getting Sarah to the show, the police and AAA arrived and we were back in business. I got gas, and we decided to make a day of it and head into NYC anyway to meet Beth, who did actually wind up making it to the show.

The consellation prize(?) was that we did get to see an afternoon taping of Martha's show, though it was not on the topic of blogging. It was about figs. I like figs enough, but, of course, it wasn't the same; and I was unable to shake the terrible, horrible, very bad feeling that came as a result of my having such a day when others were involved and affected by my day. And I was powerless to fix things, really fix things....

But alas, as it was for Alexander, and Scarlet O'hara, it will be for me. Tommorow brings a new day, a fresh start, an opportunity to try again.

Laurie (ofthesevenstories) and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day

Laurie (ofthesevenstories) and the TERRIBLE HORRIBLE NO GOOD VERY BAD DAY

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fessing up...

All of the "ist" groups that I could be associated with, I' m proud to say that I would consider myself to be a member of only one. Mostly this is a good thing, as there aren't too many ists groups that come to my mind that have positive values. For example, I do not subscribe to the points of view of the following:
*antagonists, well, this one may be debatable
*realists, in my opinion, this is not such a good group, at least for me.
*idealists; I used to be one, but then I grew up, as most of the members of this ist do
*apologists; I only rarely say I'm sorry, as I'm hardly ever wrong

Of course, there are some good "ist" groups, too. Sadly, I do not belong to those either.

I'd love to be a philanthropist, but I just don't have the money.
Once, in college, I thought for a while about being anthropologist, but then there was all that digging.
Also thought of being a sociologist; but they don't make any money. Good thing I decided to major in philosophy.
I have seen some psychologists and some psychiatrists. I'm not sure that they are good "ists". They sort of waiver between the two groups; hanging in the balance, in my mind. No, on second thought, psychologists are in the bad ists group cause all they can do is talk; and bill you 200. an hour. I talk and no pays me. Psychiatrists, on the other hand, are in the good ist group, as they can prescribe medication. Note, I am also not a scientologist. Sorry Tom Cruise. I liked you in Jerry Maguire, but not nearly as much as I like xanax.

There are two ists groups to which I think I do belong;

I think I am a feminist, although others may disagree. My husband often tells me that I am not. I reply, "well who is doing the dishes?" right before I put his laundry away.

The ist that I know I am, however, is a bad ist. I wish I weren't. I wish somehow I could take it back, erase it from my mind, separate the part of my brain that clings to the fact that I hate getting old; and thus I am an AGEIST. There, I said it. I don't feel better.

You see, today, I turn thirty four. 34. I am leaving my early thirties and entering my mid thirties. It is not place that I want to go. I am not happy here. I don't like the idea of wrinkle cream or doctor's visits to check and see if I have any of the 200+billion diseases that old people get. I don't like the idea of not being hip; or being untrustworthy; or having to grow up and be responsible. I like being the younger generation, the kid, the young one. Maybe its because I am the baby of the family. I don't know.

For the past several weeks, in anticipation of this day, I have been trying to mentally prepare myself. Mostly at night, I would have talks with myself, not out loud, I'm NOT that old YET. I would try to soothe myself.

If I live until age 90(ha!), I'm a good ten years from middle age. Not such a soothing thought. Next.

Thirty four is still relatively young. I am young. I have six years until I am forty. A little better, but still depressing.

Really young looking people are forty and older. Look at Brad Pitt. Oh yeah, he's a man and a Hollywood actor. Does not apply to me.

That vice presidential candidate chick is 42; a real person; and she has five kids. Maybe there is hope for me.

I saw on the news this morning that a new type of exercise is sweeping the older generation. Cane fu. Avg age range, 60. I'm not even close to that age; so I' m REALLY not that OLD.

Forty is supposed to be the new twenty; so in all actuality, I'm only turning fourteen today.

You know what, on my thirty fourth birthday, I actually want to be labeled a teenage mom. All of the sudden, it feels good. With age does come wisdom. So maybe instead of being depressed I should look forward to turning forty, I mean twenty.

Maybe in six years. Right now, I' m still trying to accept fourteen.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Keith, calm down...

My brother has a theory that there has never been any one by the name of Keith who is truly a success in this world. When he first mentioned this to me, I responded with, "well Keith Olbermann is successful, kind of, in his field."

"No, he's not," my brother replied, in a matter-of-fact tone. If their is one thing that my brother is, it's self-assured. Unlike me, he does not ever feel the need to justify, quantify, rationalize and explain everything he says so that everyone he says it to will understand and agree. I admire this about him; it can be pretty freaking annoying, but at least you know when he commits himself to something, he means it.

This is why when we had this conversation, and initially I didn't understand fully his assessment of Keith Olbermann, I didn't really inquire any further. Doing so would have gotten me no where, and because my brother and I are subscribe to different political ideologies, I thought "what the hell is the point?"

I am a registered Democrat.

I never really watched Keith Olbermann. I mean I knew who he was; I have listened to his commentaries when he is on a panel, but I never really more than glanced at his show, until last night.

Boy, am I glad that I didn't get into a raging debate with my brother over this guy. He is absolutely nuts.

It was sometime after 10 o'clock when alas, my head was able to hit my pillow, and I thought to myself, I think I might like to watch a little t.v. before I go to bed. I admit, I have become somewhat of a political talk show junkie, and that I have even watching Fox news, if I can't find any other political commentary, as of late. I turned to CNN last night, however, just in time to catch Keith going crazy. I wish I could you tube and put a video of his temper tantrum right here on my blog, but I haven't learned how to do that yet. If any one out there in cyberspace wants to help me, let me know...

If you didn't see it, you'll have to take my word for it, Keith was really out of line. I was only half paying attention to his commentary on Sara Palin and the whole lipstick on a pig debacle. Basically, he was defending Senator Obama and while I don't think the comment is the worst thing in the world, I don't know if I would defend it as much as I would say it was a mistake, everyone makes mistakes, and try to minimize its real importance in this real. If you ask me, Senator Obama should be more concerned about he how alienated millions of female voters
by not choosing Hillary Clinton as his v.p., but that's just my take.

It was Keith's tirade about Senator McCain that was super scary. He started off saying that McCain is trying to commercialize 9/11. He might be, but let's be honest, all of the candidates are watching their ps and qs today and trying to get voter mileage out of this day of terrible tragedy in American History. It's the nature of the political beast, and there is no way around it for any one running for office. He picked on Rudi Giuliani, and blamed him in part for 9/11. Again, could be partly his fault, but certainly, in his way, he tried to help the people of NYC in the wake of 9/11, and I certainly do not think that Rudi Giuliani deliberately did anything to bring about 9/11, which Olbermann implied.

Then he got on McCain for making a statement, in which he claimed that he knew how to capture Osama Bin Laden, and that if he was elected he would do so. This is when the foam starting coming out of old Keith's mouth, and his eyes began to bulge, and if I not mistaken, his skin began to turn green, and he muttered "you won't like me when I'm angry."

"Mr. McCain", he said, in the tone of a prosecutor delivering a closing argument on a mass murderer, (and now I'm paraphrasing) if you can find and deliver Osama Bin Laden to the United States government, and you don't because you don't get elected that is tantamount to "aiding and abetting" Osama Bin Laden.

Okay, like I said, I consider myself to be "liberal", but this is way over the line. John McCain, your candidate or not, is a former P.O.W. He risked his life for our country, and even if you don't agree with his policies or politics, I think it is an absolute abomination to link him in with Taliban leader, Osama bin Laden. I mean, Keith, are you kidding? What in the hell have you ever done besides sit your ass on a chair and talk nonsense for hours on end, and probably get paid a fortune to do so.

What angers me about this guy is that not only is he making outlandish and ridiculous statements about a man who served our country as a POW, he is simultaneously denigrating democrats everywhere. This is guy is no better than Rush Limbaugh, polarizing political discourse with hate speech to promote his personal agenda. I am revolted, disgusted, and ashamed.

Why can't people have level headed discussions about politics where they keep their disagreements to the issues and avoid distasteful, personal attacks. I expect better behavior from my children. Not that I always get it, but at least, I expect it.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The seven habits of highly ineffective, but predominantly happy, people

The start of school, is for me, much like the New Year. In fact since I was born in September, in all actuality, it is my personal New Year, and as such, for as long as I can remember I have spent many a September afternoon making resolutions about how the upcoming year will be better.

For example:
1) I buy calendars and highlighters and pens, and I make an attempt to write down important dates
2) I try to prepare the night before for the next morning
3) In my head, I make an imaginary schedule that includes a regular wake time, breakfast time, lunch time;etc.
4) I assign different days of the week different chores; Monday, I'll do the laundry; Tuesday; I'll run errands; Wednesday; I'll prepare all the meals for the following week ( yes, in the hypothetical realm I have very lofty goals).

Of course, a week or two into my new "schedule", I always drop the ball. The phone rings and I talk too long. The baby wants to go outside to play and we scrap the laundry for an hour wagon ride, or an hour of digging the dirt. The rain makes me want to stay inside and read or write or both and so we skip a trip to the grocery store and get take out for dinner....

A few years ago, I read the book, The Seven habits of highly effective people, and I had one of those Oprah aha!moments. Now I understood. Now that I saw all of those dynamic pyramids and charts. I'd put all into play and conquer the world...and then the phone rang, and I was pregnant, again, or the roof was leaking ,or somebody had cellulitis...

Well, a couple of weeks ago, I was really motivated and trying to unpack the rest of the boxes from our move LAST YEAR. Yes, I know. Mostly what is left in these boxes are old clothes, potential hand me downs, that I will likely hold on to and find, just after whoever the article would have been handed down to, has outgrown it; and books. So, I'm looking through the books and I come across the book about being highly effective.

I bring it up to my nightstand and I think, I should probably reread this. Obviously, I missed something. And then, in another Aha moment, I thought to myself, maybe in fact I did not miss anything. Maybe I should just embrace my ineffectiveness, after all, it isn't sooo bad, and it does have its pluses. So without further ado, I give you my list... The Seven Habits of highly ineffective, but predominantly happy people...

(1) In the morning when you first wake up and hear everyone else clamoring, close your eyes really tight, curl up in a bawl, and firmly pull the covers of your head. Just for a moment, be thankful that you are still in bed, even though every one else is up. After that moment, inevitably, you will be torn out of bed, but the feeling of relishing that last moment of sleep while every else faces the harsh reality of the am is really priceless

(2) Lose your keys, or purse, or something really important, at least once a week. This way you can stay home while someone else picks up your kids, a gallon of milk;etc. You'd do it for them, if you had your keys....

(3) Walk barefoot. Sure your feet will be nasty and dirty at the end of the day, but walking shoeless on the ground feels damn good. Plus, you won't have to justify to your husband why you need to spend thirty dollars and a hour on a spa pedicure while he watches the five kids. He'll be begging you to get the dogs cleaned up.

(4) Talk to people when they call. Or when you meet them in the store, or anywhere else. Not complete strangers. I mean don't end up on a milk carton, but when by coincidence you run into someone, stop and say a few words. Don't be in such a damn rush to get off the phone either. People are important; things can wait.

(5) Do things on an as needed basis. We are society of very prepared people. We go to Costco and buy enough goat cheese and laundry detergent and toilet paper so that we won't run out, because God forbid there'd be a snowstorm and we couldn't wash clothes for the five hours it takes to salt the roads.
When school starts, we amass wardrobes for our kids for the entire school year, as if that one weekend in August will be our last trip to the store before June.
So what if you wash the kids clothes the night before? Is there some law that says outfits for everyday of the week must be lined up in the closet and ready to go? Trust me, they look the same whether they come straight out of the closet or straight out of the dryer in the am. No one will know the difference.

(6) Co sleep. I mean what is all this bullshit that people can't get rest when their kids sleep in their bed. Yeah, I know they kick, and they roll over, and they wake you unexpectedly; but seriously so do partners and boyfriends and girlfriends and husbands and wives, and no one is telling you to put them in another room and let them scream it out until they fall asleep. Besides, kids outgrow this. Trust me, they won't want to sleep in your bed on prom night; and if you think about that, it'll make the kicking and the rolling much more tolerable.

(7) Don't have too many habits, or things you "have" to do. In a flash, life can change drastically. The more flexible you are, the better you'll be at rolling with the inevitable ups and downs. Or, at least that's what I tell myself.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Hello High School.Goodbye Sanity (or what I have left of it)

As if I weren't crazy enough navigating the ups and downs of life with five children, now the oldest one insists on going to high school. And a real at that. She rudely declined my generous offer to home school her with an eye roll, a sigh, and an "oh, mom, would please be serious." It is a well confirmed fact that she is more mature than I am. Did you ever see the show family ties? Well, let's just say she is Alex P. Keaton, and I a mixture of Elise (Meredith Baxter Birney's character) and Mallory (the dim witted sister, played by Justine Bateman).

"It'll be fun. I"ll teach you all the really important things in life- like how to do laundry, wash dishes, change diapers, and clean a house."
"I already know how to do those things."
"Yes, you know how to do them, but at home school, you would actually do them."
Another eye roll, sigh, and exasperated MOOOOOOOOOOM.

You parents of cute little babies, toddlers, even my friends with middle schoolers, you don't know what you are in for... remember the scene in Jaws...the opening scene where the drunk girl goes out for a fun night time swim, only to tire and lay on a buoy for a short rest. Her head, spinning from her obvious buzz, she is comforted by the large buoyant object-the only thing that she can lean on in the vast, open ocean. Unfortunately, she can only take a brief breath before an angry, great white shark attacks her, drags her under the ocean, and eats her.

This is the best comparison of what it felt like to take my daughter to high school.

I remember her first day of school. She was about 14 months old. No, she is not that much of a genius, when I say school, I actually mean day care, but for my purposes, the two are equivalent. This was the first institution to which I surrender her. That first day, I dressed her in this little yellow duck outfit. It was one of those long, wide tops that criss cross in the back and fasten with one large button. Not quite a shirt, and not quite a dress, it came as a set with little bloomers, which covered her diaper. I can still remember how it was trimmed in white ric rac, and how moved my fingers back on forth over that trim as I held her in those final seconds before I handed her over to the teacher. I ran down the hall as I heard her start to scream. I headed towards my car crying. It would not be the last time that I left her there and left in tears, but of course, things did get better. She really connected with her teacher, which is a nice, non obnoxious way of saying that she was the teacher's favorite. In most cases I shun nepotism, but when I left my fourteen month old baby in the care of complete strangers, some how justice for all became a lot less important to me than my own child's happiness.

She made it through day care and by age three, she moved on to nursery school. She was a "farm friend", and she loved it and flourished in this program. She still drank from a bottle, which I covertly snuck her every afternoon when I picked her up from school. She would be so tired that I'd have to carry her into the house, where she would watch the video, BARNEY GOES TO SCHOOL every afternoon before she took a nap. I would sing along because I developed a sort of barney related schizophrenia wherein I heard his voice in my head singing these songs ALL DAY LONG.

When we moved back to my home town from the south, my daughter started first grade at the same elementary school that I went to as a child. The school starts at age three, so as a first grader, she was the "New Kid", which is not always easy to be. I still remember the sleepover a girl in her class had. In a very small school, a mother who clearly wasn't thinking, or was thinking something she should have been, decided to allow her daughter to invite half of the girls to her birthday sleepover. It was on a Friday night. At the end of the school day, the mom picked up all the invited guests from school. My daughter watched most of her friends tote their sleeping bags and their overnight kits down the hallway before they merrily boarded this mom's minivan. Naturally, she was upset.

That night, I realized that there was absolutely nothing that I could do to make it better, and that while compared to the possible disappointments she could have been suffering at that very moment, that disappointment was extremely minor, her little self could not understand that; or if she could, she did care. It was the biggest thing in her life. For the moment. Which, of course was fleeting, but seemed eternal for at least twenty four hours.

In June, my daughter "graduated" from this school with more good memories than bad. Ready to move on and yet sad to leave. I was thankful for the summer, high school was still three months away.

Three months, however, passed quickly. Trips here and there and everywhere coupled with the day to day maintenance of the house, the children, and our Olympic hopeful cat made the time fly faster than ever. I wonder if each year will get progressively shorter as I get progressively older. Actually, I don't wonder, I know; but I like to pretend that I wonder, and that maybe I am wrong, and time will eventually slow down.

Yesterday was orientation. We took her to the high school that she chose. This was a departure from how I was raised. My parents told me in no uncertain terms that I would go to an all girls catholic academy, and I did go, kicking and screaming all the way. I made friends and had fun along the way, but I didn't think then and I still don't think now that it was the right fit for me. Who knows though? I don't look back and judge.

Anyway, off she went this morning, in a skirt not much longer than the bloomer combination she wore to her first day of daycare. There were no tears today. I dropped her off close enough so that she wouldn't have to walk too far, but far enough away so that I couldn't be seen. Imagine the embarrassment. Cell phone in one hand, my lip gloss (which I confiscated) in the other, she leaned into the door. "I'll call you when I need a ride",

And all that was left to say was, "I'll be there..."

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Um apparently being born to a teenage mom does not ruin your life (cough, Barack Obama,cough)

A lot has been happening in the political arena these days. Between the conventions, the VP picks, the historic candidates;etc.etc. I'm not about to go on some diatribe about my own political opinions, so you can breathe a huge sigh of relief. What I do want to address is what I think may be one of the single best things that the American people can learn from this election, and that is that teenage pregnancy is NOT the end of the world.

Now I am not advocating that anyone call up their daughter's boyfriend and invite them for a sleepover. Whoa Betty. I was that kind of teenager whose parents looked the other way, sometimes, or just enough times for me to get into too much trouble. My daughter will not date until she is financially independent or forty, which ever comes first. Given her penchant for designer labels and the finer things, I'm thinking she will probably be forty.

I have learned in my life as a young mother, who had her first child at age nineteen, that "mistakes" happen, and they happen a lot more often than people would like to believe. The narrow stereotype of the teenage mother does not permit mainstream Americans to believe that good girls, smart girls, capable and competent girls can also be teenage mothers. As a result, a huge prejudice exists against teenage mothers that often extends to their offspring.

Just a couple of weeks ago, my daughter who recently completed middle school and is now headed to a different school entirely for high school confided in me that during her days at her small, private, elementary school, she was often teased about having the youngest parents by both students and teachers alike.

Just last year, she told me "Mrs. so and so said, she could be your mother, and my grandmother and she is only in her fifties." Well, whoop dee doo, I thought in my head. Amazing, the woman didn't even teach math, and yet clearly she was a mathematical genius to be able to calculate that!

I tried to pretend to be exasperated by that remark and by some of the other snippy remarks my daughter told me about. The truth was, I was surprised by none of them, I have heard them a hundred thousand times before.

People have asked me questions, such as "What did you start when you were like 15?" If I had a nickel for every time some one said to me, "You don't look old enough to have a child that age", or "you must have been a baby when you had her." As yes, babies giving birth to babies is a very common occurrence. I remember taking my daughter to school for the first time and the headmaster said to me, in a very condescending tone, "you look like you could be in eighth grade."

Of course, the stupid comments aren't so bad in and of themselves. What frustrates, and agitates, and angers me when people say these things, is the fact that they clearly lack any respect for me. Any person with a normal level of sensitivity would understand that such a subject might be difficult to talk about, and therefore would not, for example, ask me at the shoe counter how old I was when I started having children? The notion in our society is that young mothers are not worthy of and do not deserve respect.

Young mothers place a drain on society. They are not competent or capable of being good parents. Nowadays, the bar is raised higher and higher everyday as to at what age a person can be a really good parent. The acceptable age seems to be at a minimum 25; with people over thirty being concerned more perfect for the job.

It's kind of like the whole presidential debate. Do you need experience to be a great president, or is good judgement more important? Do youth or old age significantly impact what kind of job a person will do? Does doing something for a longer time necessarily make people better at it? Or does it depend on the person. The totality of who they are, what they believe, how hard they are willing to work, what their intellectual ability is, what their educational background is;etc;etc.

I believe it does depend on the person and that everyone deserves a shot. You can't simply judge people by numbers and facts on a paper; and you shouldn't look at people differently or believe they are less capable simply because they have made a "mistake", or they have made a lifestyle choice that is out of the norm. And yet I see this happen everyday. When people ask me how old my oldest child is, their faces drop. Their minds quickly attempt to calculate, to add up what, to them, just isn't right.

I hope during this campaign season, Americans will begin to reevaluate their prejudices against teenage mothers and their children. I hope that they will see Barack Obama as a historic candidate, not only because he is African American, but also because he is the son of a teenage a mom. A mom who loved him; who struggled against adversity; who stuck through the hard times to raise a son so special that he became an historical candidate for the presidency. Apparently, she was old enough, smart enough, competent enough to do a good job.

The story of Sarah Palin's pregnant daughter should also give the country a chance to see firsthand that all teenage mother's are not selfish, stupid, and lazy. The scrutiny that this poor, young girl will have to face as the daughter of a vice presidential candidate will most certainly be ten times the scrutiny she would face as an unknown teen mother; but I hope that her additional suffering will not be for naught. In a more modest setting that celeb teenage moms, this young woman will have the chance to show the nation that choosing to become a teen mom is, in most cases, a brave choice; a great sacrifice; and the type of job that only a person of true substance and character would be willing to undertake.

So many see this race as a win for women; a win for African Americans; and of course it is. But no matter what party wins, I see this as a win for young mothers everywhere. We mustn't hide in the shadows; we mustn't believe those who tell us we have ruined our lives forever. We mustn't allow society to define us. Rather, we must hold our heads high knowing we are capable of making the best of things; of turning our lives around; of putting our noses up in the face of adversity; and of raising children who one day might be president.

After all, everyone in this life makes mistakes, faces challenges, and comes to a crossroad. What defines a person is not what happens to them but how they handle it. Hopefully this campaign season will help to illuminate this truth especially as it pertains to teenage mothers. If it does, then no matter what else happens, this election will truly be about change.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Baby, you are the best

So my most recent non-sensical real life ranting and ravings have been about my cat, Stuart. I made up, I mean, I intuited,(would someone please teach me how to strike) this whole crazy thing about Stuart becoming very, very jealous of Micheal Phelps while he watched the olympics.

I am guest poster over at today, and you can read all about Stuart and his olympic dreams on this blog, which belongs to my new blog buddy and northeast neighbor, Kristine.

While most of my friends and family have laughed at me/ with me when I tell them this story, my one friend, Meredith, has actually fully indulged me in this flight of fancy. Meredith is an artist, and has even agreed to draw the illustrations for my children's book, Introducing Stuart the Cat. I have been writing this in my head for a very long time as Stuart is almost nine years old. I am sure after this post, many, many publishers will be contacting me.

Last night, while hanging out with Meredith, my brother and some other friends, Meredith presented me with a gift. This, in itself, entitles her to the compliment that is the title of this post. I was so appreciative of her thoughtfulness. When I opened it, I nearly fell to the floor in hysterics.

It was purchased at Cafe press. The bowl was in stock, and not a custom order. The journal, she hand created. She also showed me t-shirts that she has had made on the sight. My only concern is that she is going to develop the type of unhealthy relationship with cafe press that some people have with the home shopping network. Don't worry, Mer, I will reign you in if you get out of control. For now, these are definitely some of the best gifts I have ever received. And next time, we'll go to karoke and I'll actually sing you my go to song by Carly Simon, Baby, you're the best. Now head over and read guest post and leave many, many comments/compliments

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Being Laurie of the seven stories

To my readers who have never seen this movie, Being John Malkovich(sp?) I apologize, this post is not for you. Those of you who have seen the movie, this is what it is like being Laurie of the seven stories. Yes, I am working on a half floor and subsquently,constantly bumping my head on shit.

8:45 A.m. Baby Tasha wakes me up by screaming MA MA MA- my usual reply on a Saturday- Daddy will get you breakfast is met with vehement opposition. I must climb the steps to the first floor, and pretend I know how to cook. Luckily pouring milk on a bowl of separated frosted mini wheats is like a gourmet breakfast for my 1 yr old.

10 AM my oldest daughter informs me that only I can take her to her hair appointment. I am simulataneously scared to death and flattered. I know nothing good can come of this, and yet WTF she is wanting me. Isn't this like Armstong on the moon?

10:45 A hairstylist says to me, "is that what she wants?" I laugh diabolically. Thank Fing God this is not my job. "Oh no, I say,whatever she wants, I will not be to blame.

12:00am I am the target_ I call my husband- I am going to run errands until she is done at the hair dressers. OK, I guess I am housebound he says. Yes I say,that's what my whole week is like. Yes , he says, but I have a job. Oh right and I am home with five kids doing nothing, how silly of me (I say gasping for air)

12:25 I try to text msg my friend who has now sent me three texts out of guilt for not attending my party last week. The last one is ome peace, and I have no idea what the f this means? I want to text her back to her let her know I am not really really mad, but secret, I have no idea how to text. I am practicing and accidentally send her a message telling her - not ready for school 2 much work bthweieas256343. I do not know how to erase.

12:45 Run into my cousin at TaRget, whom I haven't seen in awhile. Last time I saw her she was at my front door demanding I write her a check for something like a walk athon. I see her in the target- she has tears in her eyes. Her husband is pushing the cart smiling and laughing like a hyena. I say Hi and my friendliness is met with animosity. Bye then , she says, pushing me and my empty cart aside. leaving her husband to smile at me bewildered. WTF, again.

1:00 Msg from my daughter. I hate my hair and told the stylist. She is redoing it. I wonder if I can call the hospital and find my real child. The one who looks in the mirror while in the chair, screaming inside, and says, it looks great, I love it, until she gets home and tells her mother how her visit to the hairdresser has destroyed her life.

1:15 Call my cousin Jennifer who reassures me our other cousin is crazy. She tells me she is making Team Laurie shirts for the family wedding next week. I tell her that if I have inadvertently offended her in any way, that I am sorry, but ya know...

1:45 After having her hair redone, daughter proves she is mine by acting just as I once did. ANother one bites the dust.

2:45 Get kids ready to go over to Moira and Chaz's house for dinner and swim. Will these people stop at nothing for publicity?

12:15am arrive home- tired, distraught, banging my head on the low ceiling and lookin forward to my anniversary- not of my marriage, but of the night that Moira and I drank on her patio until 5 am without realizing it was past say 2 am. Chaz reminded us tonight it will be a yr this week. He is offering again to take the kids to the baseball game. I am expecting a candle light dinner....

And this folks is what it is like to be me. Talk about your major motion pictures

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Spohrs may be multiplying, but we're producing on the playground as well...

Isabelle, the Diva
No, I wasn't in pageants(shocking) Aidan, Ethan and Sierra
The little girls


Tasha take two

Okay, so here's the deal. I want to be a successful blogger, writer; etc.; etc. I have joined many groups- all mediocre, local philly mommy bloggers, blog nut, I am a blissfully domestic diva- and still I am not quite where I want to be or where I think I should be.

There are a lot of blogs that seem to get quite a bit of attention. I think these blogs are great and deserving, but I think my blog is equally great and deserving, so hey give a girl a chance.

Recently, when visiting the blog of another all mediocre member, I wondered if, for a moment, what is missing from my blog are more pictures of my baby beauties.

One blog in particular, The Spohrs are Multiplying seems to get a lot of attention because it includes some very cute pictures of baby Maddie. But here is the thing- while the Spohrs may have multiplied and made one heck of a cute kid- over here at the playground, we are freaking mass producing. I mean, not only do we have one adorable baby, we also have four other reasonably cute kids.

So all you Spohr lovers, mommy bloggers, baby lovers and kid connoisseurs, won't you consider spending some time on the playground? It's really fun, I promise- I'll be your best friend, I'll share, and I'll always give you a push when you need one.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Dealing Drugs at the Park

Hello again, loyal readers. I'm glad to see that all four, oh and you in the back make five, of you have returned. I have a moment, of which I am excessively proud, to share with you for today's tale.

Allow me to mention first, however, that when I returned home tonight, I checked my email only to find that I have been asked to join a blogger community called blognut. I have added a button link on my sidebar. The Universe must be in proper alignment, as clearly my peers are now easily able to find me, and to invite me to join them.

Loyal readers, you will remember me telling you about my fabulous beyond fabulous friend Moira. Remember, the one married to the handsome, and excessively charming Chaz. They attended the eighties party with me, and yet Moira was quick to point out in my comments that though she had a good time, most of the music was from the nineties. It was at that party also, if you recall me mentioning, that both Moira and Chaz, loyal readers and real world friends told me that my blog would improve ten fold, if I made more mention of how fabulous the two of them are, and if I talked about all of our awesome times together.

This evening I have the perfect opportunity to mention Moira again, and to test her theory.

This morning was a crazy morning. While lounging in bed at ten of nine with the little girls, since the boys were still sleeping, I decided to check my voice mail. There was a message from our Dentist, who happens to be my Uncle, who happens to hate lateness and missed appointments, which was a reminder call for the boys' dental appointments. They were today! At 9:45 a.m.!

All hell broke loose. Showers were turned on. Clothes were gathered. Hair was brushed in the car. As we pulled away, the girls sat in their car seats, still in their pajamas, drinking from sippy cups and eating granola bars for breakfast.

After I took the boys to the dentist, dropped them off, ran home, bathed and changed the girls, dressed myself, and returned to pick the boys up, we went out for a late breakfast/ early lunch, before returning home. I was sitting at the computer, trying to balance my checkbook, pay bills, assemble school papers, and deciding what uniforms I still needed to order when Moira called.

We talked on the phone for a few minutes...
Yes, the kids are making me crazy, too. No, I forgot to take the dental forms to be filled out for school with me to the office this morning. Yes, I did find a good place to buy massive quantities of navy Knee socks; my house also looks like a bomb hit it; and pretty much I can not stand the thought of having to go back to school. No matter what, I am not volunteering for anything this year.

Finally, I say to Moira, as I can hear her kids chanting in the background, "Can we go to Petco?", Do you want to take these kids to the park for a bit?

Initially, she says, "No, I can't". She starts to list all of the things that she really has to do. The lizards need live crickets to eat. At 11cents a cricket, she reasons she may spend more feeding the lizards this year than we currently spend to send our children to private school. Sounds impossible to me, but they could be very hungry lizards. Perhaps, it is the thought that all of her money will either be spent educating the children or feeding the lizards that makes her decide to say, "I'll meet you in a half an hour."

We arrive at the park at about the same time. We have three kids, the same age and the same sex, so instantly they all run off and go play. We would like to sit in the shade and just bitch, but I still have Tasha to traipse after. When the rest of the gang decides to include Tasha in their escapades, we begin to discuss everything from what teacher our kids got, to what class got more "bad"kids, to how difficult it is to get all the back to school shit together. We wonder if it's all worth it.

We talk about the flurry of activities about to begin. Monday thru Friday nights will again be booked up by sports, religion classes, homework, dance and music lessons. The lazy days of summer sure are fading fast, and we both agree that we feel like we are drowning in a sea of registration forms, plaid kilts, and navy blue polo shirts. Why neither of us has brought a flask to the park is really puzzling.

At the end of our spur of the moment play date, our kids play the "I'll hide in the other mom's car" game. No one wants to leave- no one wants to go to their right house. Everyone wants one more sleepover, one more game of hide and seek, one more afternoon of unplanned fun. We look at the kids and realize how big they are getting. When we first met, her oldest, and my second oldest were four; her second son and mine were under two, and we were both pregnant with the girls, who have grown up to be best of buddies. Sadly, this is the first year they won't be in the same class year. Time changes absolutely everything.

As we try to remove the kids from each other's cars- we exchange other items with one another. A toy her daughter left at our house, my daughter has brought along to return. She has extra uniforms for me, since someone gave her a lot of girls clothes. We say goodbye, and as she begins to pull away, I jump from my car waving my pill bottle, "wait"...

That was the other thing we were going to exchange. I was going to give her some xanax; she was going to share her atavan. She wants to feel normal, not sleepy; and I can't sleep lately, worrying about pretty much everything. I stand at her car window, in the park parking lot, pill bottle in hand. She pulls hers from her purse.

This is really bad, she says. You gotta write about this on your blog.

It's a damn good thing we are not celebrities being stalked by tabloids. There would be tons of pictures of this exchange everywhere, I tell her.

We laugh, do our drug deal in the parking lot,and then part ways.

We may be getting older, we may be moms of school aged children, but we are still incorrigible and crazy. At least, some things in our lives have stayed the same. And for the things that are in flux, thank god we have the meds.

Friday, August 15, 2008


Last night, I did something that I don't normally do- I had a home party, a.k.a., a demonstration. For the past couple of days, I was really dreading it, for several reasons. First and foremost, it meant that I had to clean up my entire house; second, it meant I had to invite my friends to spend money on my behalf; and third, it was stressful having to worry if everyone would mesh and if the party would have a good flow. I mean, I like to entertain, and most of the parties that I have had are fun, but demonstrations are different. I have been to some that are a smashing success, and others that have been downright disastrous. Fortunately, my party wound up actually being fun,.

The bonus of the whole event was that I invited some of my "new" neighbors and got to meet quite a few of them. Last year, we moved out of our 70yr old home to new construction in a development neighborhood. At first, I was a bit skeptical. I had never really lived in a "planned community" before, but I had heard horror stories. I thought that I was an "old home" kind of girl. I imagined transforming my house into a home featured in the centerfold of country living. In fact, my life in the old house more resembled scenes from the film the "Money Pit" than it did pages from a decorating magazine, and so alas, we decided moving would be our best.

Last summer, when we moved in, we were the third house. The landscape of our new neighborhood was filled with dirt piles, bull dozers and empty lots. In this less than stellar real estate market, we did not see as many new neighbors move in as we would have liked to, but gradually houses were built, and people moved in. There are now probably about ten occupied houses, although one is up for sale because the homeowner failed to incorporate the tax bill into their monthly payment. I wonder how this could happen, but I suppose anything is possible...

In any case, I now know three of my lovely neighbors. They are all quite different from one another, and yet I really feel like I could have a friendship with each and every one of them. None of them are from around here, and they are all looking to make new acquaintances and friends. I am from here but know and understand the importance of always meeting new people. Making new friends, and meeting new and different people enhances perspective, and ultimately life.

After coming to my "party", one of my new neighbors even invited me to come in and see her house while I was out for a walk with Tash. Tash played with her daughter and had a snack and we talked for awhile about kids, houses, motherhood, the neighborhood;etc. When we left, I pushed Tash home in the stroller, waving to my next door neighbor whom I have known for sometime, but now know better, and thinking, "gee, I feel like I'm on the set of desperate housewives", minus, of course, all of the murder, and most of the scandal. Who knows, maybe in a couple of months, we'll have a weekly card game going?

As I am thinking all of this, I am simultaneously trying to match my new found friends, and myself, with the characters from Wisteria Lane. I'm not sure exactly who I'd be. I' d like to Bree, but I know I'm much more like a combinations of Teri Hatcher and Lynette. A scatterbrained, crazy mom of many kids, trying to survive disaster. Yup, that's me.

Which housewife would you be? Do you watch? Did you see the final show, and if so, have you heard this season will be set five years in the future. Personally, after losing interest in past seasons, I have found my love of this show to be renewed. What do you think? I'd love to know.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends...

As I mentioned earlier this week, we just returned home from two weeks at the Jersey Shore. SO FABULOUS, it was and I will get the pictures up in the next couple of days! During the second week of our vacation, my cousin, yes I do have a lot of cousins, Tony and his wife, Heidi came in from Chicago to stay at his parents' shore house. They brought their two little girls, Emma and Lilly, who are two and a half and one and a half, and of course, my kids nearly ate them up. They don't have any first cousins yet and they just love these girls to pieces, especially Isabelle, my five year old.

Emma really enjoyed Isabelle as well. Everywhere we went, Emma wanted Isabelle to push her in her stroller. Emma would say to Isabelle, "Emma is going to the beach, does Isabelle want to go with Emma to the beach?" IDK, but there is something so amazingly cute about a kid who talks about herself in the third person. Lilly is almost exactly the same age as Tasha, and they two, were best of buds. Tasha really loved to hug Lilly, and kiss her, and share her sippy cup with her.

Naturally, with the kids getting along so well, Heidi and I wound up spending a lot of time together. A new mom who is living away from friends and family, Heidi doesn't really spend much, if any time, around other mothers of young children. She anxiously asked me many questions about what is normal for children; how to get through the day; what discipline strategies work; etc. She confided in me that she is often lonely and alone, because my cousin works long hours, and because she doesn't really know any other mothers.

As my children mixed cheezits with sand, she looked at me and said " you are so laid back, I wish I could be that way." By contrast, I am laid back, and she is more wound up and up tight. Little things like how many ice creams the girls had during the week, or whether or not they napped for exactly three hours did seem to bother her. Emma saying "no" and not always obeying, as most two years I have ever seen do, was embarrassing to her. I could sense her unease with motherhood in general, and I wanted to give her some advice- not that I am expert in anyway, but I could sympathize, I have been there.

I spent the first six years of my daughter's life, and the first two years of my son's, living in the foreign land of South Carolina, which to a Yankee, who had only ever gone south to Florida, was like another world. When I had my first born, I was terribly alone and often felt isolated. These are not good conditions for a mother. What's more, for a long time, I had no friends who were also mommies, so the only meter by which I could measure my success as a mommy was my own mother.

Mother's from other generations have selective memories, and often revise history. They do not remember how their children actually acted, but rather they remember how they thought their children should have acted.

My mom does not remember us fighting, or not sitting still in restaurants, or talking back, or throwing our clothes on our bedroom floors. She remembers us as good, well-behaved children, which sometimes we were, but just as often, we were not. Not that we were bad, but we were normal. My mom also remembers herself as the perfect wife, always with dinner on the table when my dad came through the door, beds made, clothes clean and put away. She forgets that we had a full time housekeeper, and that she did not work. My mom doesn't remember that she needed time away from us, which was why she was involved with various committees, the president of the PTA, and the junior league; or that she and my dad went out at least one night every weekend while we were babysat. Since she doesn't remember any of this, she doesn't today understand why moms need nights out...

When my mom was my only sounding board, and I spent many days without talking to another soul over the age of five, other than my husband who just didn't get it, I was a lot like Heidi. I was uptight, always wondering in my mind, are my kids normal? Am I doing the right thing? I would sit in my house thinking that everywhere else, moms were doing things better than I was. Their houses were cleaner, their kids better behaved, their lives, in general, were running better than mine.

And then gradually, I started to meet some of the other moms in the world. The ones that I imagined did not exist. Moms in reality were a lot like me. They had trouble juggling the housework and the kids. They lost their minds from day to day trying to get their kids to share, to put their toys away, to go to bed at night. Gradually, I began to realize that as a mom and a wife and a person, I was ok, I was normal- if there is such a thing, and it was then that I really began to relax, and motherhood got just a little bit easier. (As I say this, I am knocking on every piece of wood I can reach from my computer chair)

The advice that I gave to Heidi was that she should return to Chicago and join a moms group. I told her to find other mothers with whom she could trade babysitting so that she can get out alone once in a while. I also told her to watch other moms with their kids so that she can see that her kids act normal, and above all else, I advised her to make some friends with moms in her same boat, so that she can have some people to commiserate with.

I don't know the secrets to discipline, or diet, or how to make your house sparkly clean while serving a gourmet meal to bright eyed, appreciative children, but I do know the secret to surviving motherhood, and that is without a doubt, to have friends with whom you can share your struggles and successes. Motherhood can be a very isolating job- especially for SAHMs who don't have co-workers or human resource departments to help us out when we are feeling blue. We have to recruit, and sometimes this can be hard work, but it is worth it.

I hope things get better for Heidi. I promised myself that I would do a better job of being a long distance relative. Talking to her made me realize how truly grateful I am for the friends I have. Shout out to all of you I know in the real world, and those of you who support me in cyberspace, I couldn't get by without you.

Monday, August 11, 2008

No costume can save her from looking bad...

So my cousin Phil's ex girlfriend, ex is in italics because it is on again off again, and as of this moment I'm not sure which it is, is a costume designer in NYC. I believe she works primarily in off Broadway productions, but who knows maybe she has even done some Broadway productions. If I remember correctly, my other cousin Elyse, Phil's sister told me something about Sara, the costume designer, buying t-shirts for Michelle Pfeiffer for some performance.

For this reason, everyone wants to know Sara.
Everyone loves Sara-because Sara is a costume designer, and has met and perhaps worked with famous people, and thus she must be wonderful.
Everyone loves Sara, except perhaps my cousin, who in his defense is truly a very nice guy, me, and my friend, Meredith- who is a mutual friend of mine and my cousins.

To me, Sara is obnoxious, crass, and downright nasty. For this behavior, I have heard many excuses. "That's how New Yorkers are", someone said to me. Others, some my actual relatives, defend her in virtue of the fact that she is a costume designer, as if this gives her some type of license to be a miserable. nasty. bitch.

The first encounter that I ever had with the girl was when my cousin brought her to my house. We were having a get together and watching football. She came in, looking extremely annoyed, sighed,stuck her nose out, and said, "I can't believe people really watch this." Then she proceeded to tell me how she couldn't understand how we could possibly live in the small town that we do. I'm sure that we lacked sophistication and savvy. I, on the other hand, thought she lacked manners and authenticity. How trite to play the sophisticated New Yorker who can't fathom life in a small town. If you are going to be obnoxious, at least be original. At least, that's my motto.

I made up my mind that I didn't like her.

Elyse encouraged me to give her another chance. Some how she was certain that I misread her. I don't know why. Actually, I think I'm pretty sound minded and a good judge of character. What I am not is phony, and the type of person that says that I like everyone. Everyone in this world can not like everyone else in this world, and some people really are terrible. Nevertheless, I did give Sara another chance, at a family wedding.

My other cousin was getting married in Rhode Island, and my husband and I, and my siblings and all of my other younger relatives were staying in a hotel, and we all decided to go out on the town. The kids were not invited and were staying with my FIL. Elyse and I knocked on Sara and Phil's room door to ask them if they wanted to go out. Sara stared at me hard when she answered the door.

Oh, Laurie, she said, I didn't recognize you without your gaggle of children.

That was strike two.

Last year, Phil moved back from NYC and broke up with Sara. The news delighted me, especially because as I said, Phil is a really nice guy, and I have no idea why he is with Sara. NO, she is not pretty, and yes, he is cute. Kind of looks like Jason Bateman. I thought my days of even thinking about this beastly girl were over... and then last month Phil had a party at his house here for his thirty third birthday, and yup you guessed it, Sara was there.

Fortunately, for all parties involved, I could not make it. The gaggle needed to be tended, and I couldn't get another goose to sit on them for me. My friend, Meredith, was, however, able to attend. She had never met Sara before. I warned her, but she seemed to take my admonition with a grain of salt. I could tell she was thinking, how bad could she be?

At the party, this question was answered, almost immediately for her.

Phil introduced Meredith to Sara, who was complaining about the bugs.

Sara asked Meredith, "What do you do?"

Meredith, who is also an extremely nice person, soft spoken and mild mannered, told Sara that she is a stay at home mom.

Sara's response was a deadpan, "I'm sorry."

Meredith was stunned, and began to stammer about apologetically, trying to explain why she has made such a poor decision for her life's direction.

Sara continued on, Don't you want to do something with her life that would make your children proud of you?"

When Meredith recounted this interaction to me, I was aghast.

What you should have said to her was yes, I do want to do something to make my children proud and that is why I am going to knock you out. Naturally, I was kidding, and I wouldn't honestly resort to violence, but seriously this chick is terrible.

Here is what I'm wondering, and I would love to her thoughts on this- is it just me or do you all find that people held in esteem by others for their perceived success are often allowed to get away with outlandish, outrageous behavior?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

So long Shore, Hello home

Last night, we finally returned home from two weeks at the shore. I swear, I barely remembered what our real house looked like, and to be perfectly honest, for those two weeks, I sincerely did not care.

The shore was a "busy" vacation in the sense that taking kids to the beach everyday is actually a lot of work, and yet it was so relaxing to be away from everything, and to need so little to get through the day. Most of the time, I didn't need my car, my keys, my purse, my shoes;etc. I didn't feel constantly at odds with myself about how to best spend every minute of my day, and I only went to the grocery store one time on the whole vacation.

It was wonderful.

Today, on the other hand, I am back to reality. Being back to the blog, which may or may not qualify as reality, is for sure one of my favorite things about being home. Less exciting is to see that while I was away the laundry I left did not wash itself; bills and other mail continued to accumulate; and the refrigerator did not purge itself of spoiled dairy products.

My husband, who was home alone for the entire first week of our vacation told me he cleaned up the house and handled the mail. I'm not sure what the word clean means to him, but what he did, I can not call cleaning. He may have handled the mail in the sense that he touched it, but he did not return papers that were sent by school and were due back before today; nor did he open, respond to, or inform me of two invitations that we received while I was away, and he was still home- one, for a party that has already happened, the other for my cousins wedding, which hasn't happened, but for which a response was required on August 2. Granted, I think in the case of the wedding, more time should have been given to respond, but still...I was single-handedly managing five children at the beach, and he was?

Right- working, but only til five- which means that he had many nights all to himself. I'd even cut him some slack, but here is the thing. When he did arrive to vacation with us, he told me how rough his week had been. Naturally, I rolled my eyes and said, you have got be kidding me- but he protested my jest, standing firm on the grounds that he did so much at home while we were gone.

So today, I have been scurrying about like a mad woman. I am filling out forms due today, trying to return some of the seventy phone messages that I came home to, and throwing out old gogurt, and sighing loudly as I unpack and repack because three of the kids are going away with my FIL, until Friday, tomorrow morning.

And he keeps saying, "relax, there is really not that much to do."
Maybe he's right, maybe I've been spoiled by my beach bum lifestyle and now reality is too overwhelming, but when he told me this afternoon...
"I'm mowing the lawn and then I'm done, because tomorrow I have to go back to work"
...I had wonder where he thinks I'm going tomorrow- what he thinks I have to do tomorrow?
Why is it that a mother's work is never done, but a father can be finished after he mows the lawn? Because he has a job? If I don't have a job, how can my work never be done- if I don't have a job, why do I have work?
Maybe I have had too much sun.
Tomorrow, I will be back in business. Not sure what business that is, since I don't work, but if I find out, I'll be sure to let you know.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A quick hello...

Hi, Just stopping in to say I am still alive. Am stealing a moment btw the water park, the beach, the rides, shoving ice cream in my face, desanding four children, yes I still have five but the oldest can shower herself, catching crabs, enjoying my cousins children, dealing with my cousins wife, kidding, and generally just having a great time and plotting what I will do with my life so that I can buy myself a beach house and spend the entire summer at the jersey shore.

I don't want to hear about hypodermic needles. I love jersey!

I have so many stories, pics etc. to share with you when we return on Saturday. My kids, minus the baby and the oldest, are spending all next week with my FIL, and his crazy common law wife, so I promise many worth while posts...please come back to read them, you won't be sorry.

I haven't forgotten also that I owe a story about the woman who said to one of my friends, don't you want to do something to make your children proud, when my friend told her that her job swas to be a stay at home mom.

Tune in.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The next time we hang out... I will be on my couch.

Life is what you make it according to Miley Cyrrus, and on that note, we agree.

Before I begin, I just want to let you guys know that I am writing to you from an internet cafe on my alleged vacation. Taking five kids to the beach without my husband is not exactly what I would term a vacation, but I can't complain about the change of scenery. Plus, he'll be here on Saturday for week two, so I can't complain too much. More about all of this vaca stuff later.

On a completely random side note, which has nothing to do with this post, I don't know how people write stuff in these places. I feel so naked, so exposed, and also so ridiculous. I mean what difference does it make if these forty people right here, right now. read what I'm writing? Aren't I sending this info all over the world. Still, I find myself looking over my shoulder compulsively.

Anyway, back to Miley. Last Thursday, the girls and I accepted my mom's invitation to go to
NYC for the night so that we could go to Miley Cyrrus' concert on the plaza at the Today show. Isabelle is a huge Hannah fan as I may have mentioned before, and Sierra and I and even my hubby like Miley's song whose lyrics are the first part of the title of this post. I wish I knew its proper name, but I am not that big of a fan.

I was reluctant to go at first. I am not the type of person who wants to hold a sign outside of the today show, screaming, wailing, and trying to get Matt Lauer to kiss me, but I have stood outside the studio from time to time on trips to NYC, most recently when we went over after Thanksgiving to see the Rockettes, and I figured since concert tickets are unattainable, it might not be the worst idea. I knew it would be more crowded than usual, but how could I pass up a night a the Marriot Marquis with two less children. Plus, we'd have Thursday to do other things.

Unfortunately, with an infant, however, we could not go to see any shows. We did walk around a bit, took the girls to Saks, where you can pick your desert off of a conveyor belt in their chocolate cafe, more on this later too, which was something we saw on our pre x-mas visit, but didn't try because of crowds. In the middle of the day, in the middle of July, we sat down no problem, and the girls, even Tashi all loved this!

Next, we spent the evening next door at American girl, dining with dolls. Yes we did eat our way thru NYC.

On the walk back to the hotel we got a glimpse of what the next morning would be like for us. People, with their children, were actually sleeping on the street outside of studio 1A in anticipation of the concert. They had tents, they had pizza delivery, they had little kids who had been on that sidewalk since Wednesday, nearly 48 hours before the concert.

As we passed by, all I could think of was the camera guy from Today who obnoxiously yelled at me as we paused outside of the studio for a few minutes so that our oldest daughter Sierra, who currently believes she wants to be a broadcast journalist, could see the show in the making.

It was drizzling slightly, and Tasha was in a down snow suit, a blanket over here, tucked in her stroller. We were in route to see the rockettes and had about twenty minutes to spend there.

Hey lady, get your kid out of the rain, the guy said to me. I'll put her in the next shot, but you got to get her out of here.

Hey, I yelled back, how bout you use your camera, and I'll parent my kids.

What a complete ass, I thought at the time, judging me. I was trying to bring five kids, and an exchange student to see the sights of NYC, which by the way, was very hard work,not to mention an expensive sacrifice, and now this asshole, who spends his days undoubtedly shooting meaningless celebrity interviews was judging me, and telling me how to parent. I don't think so.

In any case, I wondered what he had to say about all these kids sleeping on the sidewalk of nyc. Standing in the hot sun for two days? I wondered did he boycott his work that day, or did he stick around and take the shots, and make the big bucks, and go back to his hole feeling super superior.

Okay, sorry for the tangent, again. Clearly, I have add.

Anyway, I promised we would leave for the show around six am, an hour before it begins. Needless to say, we could barely make it around the block. We were able to stand across the street, behind the stage, and Isabelle did catch a glimpse of Miley. My mom, Tashi and I stood further away, so Tashi could move about and was not shoved in the crowd, and quite by accident, my mom and Tasha were actually featured on t.v. Go figure. Isabelle, who is five and does want to be on tv, was none to happy about her sisters television debut, but accepted it as part and parcel of going to the concert.

After thirty minutes of Miley, the largest today show concert series crowd ever began to break up, and I heard many kids complaining about all the waiting, the getting up early, because they barely could even see the celeb. This is where being five is a godsend, because in Isabelle's five years of experience she has never been to a concert before. She didn't know what to expect, and so sans expectations, she was very happy with what she got. Life is what you make it.

As for me Miley, Hannah or whoever you are, don't take it personally, but I can actually wait to see you again. If there is a next time in person, it will be when I have a seat to see you, which will happen only if I can purchase reasonably priced concert tickets, i.e., they don't cost the same as the rent of my first apartment per ticket.

Other wise the next time we hang out, it will be on my couch, when I watch you on Disney channel with my little rock star wannabe.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Quitting nursing, like quitting smoking, but worse.

Okay, I know that I promised my next post title would be, "Don't you want to do something to make your kids proud", but I have to preempt that story so that I can tell you about my weekend of weaning. And by my weekend of weaning, I mean my weekend of absolute excruciating torture.

As I write to you, my dear internet friends, my boobs are as hard as rocks- it is not pleasant.

My baby is nineteen months old, so I know that it is time to stop. Also, with the xanax, no breastfeeding- and as much as I love being mother earth, I gotta go in favor of sanity. Sorry, baby.

The choice, I will tell you, has not been an easy one. I am one of those weirdo moms who actually enjoyed nursing my children, all five of them. Unlike so many mothers that I have watched on A Baby Story, or Bringing home baby who have trouble or can't nurse, I was fortunate enough to be a natural at nursing. Even at nineteen when I brought my first baby home, who incidentally is turning 14 tomorrow, huge, gigantic gulp!!!!!!!, I immediately was able to nurse her with essentially no assistance. Moreover, unlike most breastfed babies, my newborns left the hospital actually having gained weight, which I am told is very unusual for breastfed babies. I have thought from time to time maybe I should be a lactation consultant.

Don't be too jealous, though, because breastfeeding hasn't been all roses for me. I had my share of blistered nipples, mastitis; but worst of all for me has always been the weaning. Because as I have said before I'm not really a type a, I was never in a huge rush to wean my children. I mean I didn't want them to be ridiculously old and nursing, but my first daughter was two before she completely stopped. The middle child, my younger son, stopped earliest, at nine months- middle kids always have it the toughest, because I got pregnant again. On average, I would say that they all nursed for about eighteen months.

Weaning has always been difficult for me because none of my children were eager to give it up. I have heard stories from other moms who say, oh, Johnny just lost interest. This never happened for me. I think, for my kids, I was their security object, their wooby, so to speak, and so the end of nursing was always traumatic- but typically more so for them than for me. With the other kids, I was usually really ready to stop, and also, I didn't have to stop immediately, because of medication, and so the gradual milk drying was quite so painful.

Going cold turkey, as I have been since Friday, however, hurts like hell. I am a stomach sleeper, so in addition to feeling like my chest is about to explode, I also have been having one heck of a time sleeping. Tylenol and ice packs have been my best source of relief- and yesterday, I think was the worst day, because the day before wasn't so bad, and today seems a little bit better- but yesterday, I literally felt like I could vomit from the pain. Not good.

On top of all of this, I am not so eager this time to stop nursing because this is my last baby. I know she is number five, and I should probably be way over it by now, but I'm not. Partly because I love little babies, and partly because the end of lactating makes me feel old, dried up a bit- put out to pasture. Silly maybe, but still, I'm having a bit of a moment.

Yesterday morning was especially hard because she was crying, I was in pain, and then I started to cry. It's hard to give up that bond, especially when you know there is no going back. Isabelle, my miniature psychologist, however was able to shed some light on the situation. Oh, if only I had her wisdom.

Aren't you going to give Tasha bubber anymore? she asks. I think secretly she is a bit delighted. After all, this cute little lady took her spot in the sunlight, displaced her as the youngest, and got to be on mommy all the time.

No, I say, clearing my thought, and trying to be brave.

Well, she says, think of all the new things that you are going to be able to do with your baby now. You can meet new mommy friends when Tasha makes new baby friends. You can buy new pretty sippy cups.

Then she says to Tasha, you are a big gull now. Now you are just like sissy.

I look at her. So cute, so wise, and I realize that my baby growing up to be just like her big sissy is really a good thing.

And once my boobs deflate, and return to normal, I think I'll treat myself to some new bras, the kind that don't snap down in the front, the kind the dream angels from Victoria's secret wear.

Better to look forward because looking back gets you no where.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Friday's Facts

I'm changing my tune today and promise to be as many all smiles as I can be. Given my recent xanax prescription, this should be easier than I once thought, a couple of days ago, that it would be. God Bless mood medication.

Here are a few fun facts for Friday... I am running behind on essentially everything in my life- so I'm keeping it short and sweet, but nevertheless, I hope you enjoy.

#1 A couple of weeks ago, the delightful, inspiring, and seemingly super cheery wondermom, Mrs. Fussypants, asked me to contribute to her online magazine, "Blissfully Domestic". Now, those of you who know me, Moira, especially shhh, may be wondering, how can this be possible? Laurie is neither blissful nor domestic. Aha, but I do have multiple personalities, one which is sorta domestic, the other which can be downright blissful. Sooner or later, I knew my mania would come in handy. Fortunately, to avoid confusion, all of my personalities have agreed to share the same screen name, so you can find my articles on Blissfully Domestic under Laurie of the seven stories. When the magazine formerly relaunches, sometime in August, I will be formerly introduced as a new domestic diva. Until then, you can visit the site to read my first contribution, an announcement about the American Girl movie, Kit Kittredge.

#2 On Thursday night, I realized that my friend, Nicole, mentioned in my last post as my brother's possible new love interest (but I don't ask questions) is as crazy, if not crazier, than I am. It is always a welcome revelation to find someone who shares my level of insanity.
Those of you who read my post on the death of the turtle know what a weakened condition I was in that day. Because of the mass hysteria, I took the children to the pet store to calm them down and to look...I know that you are all laughing at me now- I can hear the cackling coming through the computer.
Anyway, they had these absolutely adorable lab puppies, all golden and soft with fat, full of life paws. Perfect for healing the broken heart of a mourning pet owner- but also very poopy, and chewy, and who would watch ours in two weeks while we go on vacation for two weeks. I was so proud of myself for coming to my sense, and we settled for an equally warm and fuzzy pet that requires much less maintenance- a piranhas. cute. If I could find my damn digital camera, I'd post a picture,
At dinner, on Sunday night, the dinner I wrote about in the last post, I mentioned this to Nicole and her kids. I see her on Thursday, and she cursing me and berating me, and telling me its all my fault. I can't imagine what the problem, except I figure it involves my brother in one way or another.
What, I ask is all my fault? Apparently, out of boredom, old Nicole decided to take the boys, her boys, to the pet store, to look at the piranhas. She didn't believe a pet store would sell such a thing. Before, however, she was able to make it to the back of the store, she and the boys stumbled on two black, cocker spaniel mixes, a girl and a boy, brother and sister.
Yes, she bought them both- because she didn't want to split brother from sister- for $1000, plus supplies. Well, Nicole, I don't know anything about the condition of your health, but I think you are right on target about your finances. In fact, I feel my own wallet getting lighter just listening to you.

#3 Because, I have been so absent from blogging, I have sooooo many stories to tell. My next title, "Don't you want to do something to make your children proud?" is 100% true and a real humdinger and a doozy. Be sure to come back to the playground. And bring something to sit on because the equipment gets hot in the simmer, and I don't want you to burn your butt.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I skinned my knee, but I'll be okay.

So, I didn't literally skin my knee- but if anyone, anyone, anyone has been wondering where I've been the past week, the truth is I have been feeling a little bit low.
As I mentioned to you earlier, my daughter left last week, about this time, for California. She went with my mom and the two of them are to return today. They spent three nights in Disneyland and three nights at a resort in San Diego. I spoke with them this morning because I am picking them up from the airport tonight. Their plane is scheduled to arrive somewhere around midnight- perfect timing.
They had a really great time, even though their original plan was to stay with my pseudo Aunt and Uncle, really my mom's good friends, at their home in San Diego. They were going to go to Laguna and to LA, so that my star struck teenager could stalk stars. A couple days before they were supposed to leave, however, my cousin called to say that there was something wrong.

My Aunt's husband, not her daughter's real father, but the only real father she has ever known, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He is 69. I don't know what any one knows about pancreatic cancer, but being the hypochondriac that I am, I try to stay away from any health news that I can- but even still I knew that this was not good, and have subsequently heard life expectancy, after diagnosis, is typically counted in weeks. So the day before they left, I spent much of my day on travel websites trying to cobble together a new itinerary for them.

All the while, I started to think, and I was not thinking good thoughts. My mind, like a run away train, started to go down roads that made me very panicky and sad. I read an entire book in two days to try to get my mind refocused. I rented a movie, feast of love, which the cover said was soul uplifting, that was so sad, it made me feel worse, which I did not think was possible. Over and over again, I was thinking how life draws us in, tricks us into making plans, having dreams, achieving goals, and then right when we are least expecting it, it pulls the rug right out from under us. The catch 22 is that the only way to "get over" having the rug removed is to be lured back into living, which at some point will result in the same ending, leaving us right back where we started from. I wondered isn't that the definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. Is living really the process of going insane? I started obsessing and hyperventilating, and well questioning, once again, what this life really is all about?
Sunday night, my brother invited us over for dinner, and after a couple glasses of wine and some laughs with him and our mutual friend, Nicole, who may or may not be his new love interest, my perspective started to change. Nicole is divorced and has two boys, who are the same age and go to the same school as my Aidan and Isabelle.
As the kids ran around and played, Nicole and I started to talk about paranoia, depression, and the fear of death in my brother's kitchen.
I had a premonition when I was sixteen that I would die when I was thirty six, she told me.
How old are you?
Thirty six, she said.
We both started to laugh uncontrollably. For some reason, these types of thoughts stop being scary and start sounding absurd and hilarious when shared with someone who can relate.
The thing is, she said, I am half way through, but I have been spending money like its my last year, so if I turn thirty seven, I'll be alive but broke.
Now we were really cracking up.
The kids came in and were prodding my brother and Mrs. Mullen to kiss.
Do you love each othah? Isabelle asked.
Are you going to get married? another voice questioned.
Of course, both my brother and Nicole laughed off these suggestions. I thought for a moment of my brother's ex girlfriend, Hannah. They dated for six years and broke up, at age 35, this past February. Needless to say, we thought that they would be married, that she would be part of our family. We shared many laughs and meals in that kitchen together, and now she is no longer a part of any of our lives. I am saddened by this, but also enjoying the new company. I'm not glad that she is gone, but without her leaving, I know these new people would not now be a part of our lives.
As I was thinking of all of this, I started to think about how life changes gradually from season to season. In the moment, so often, we think that what is, will always be, and then when it changes, we are so often stunned, shocked, disappointed, even depressed. Gradually as days pass somehow we create new comfort zones, new traditions, new always' that seem like they are not new, were never new. Every once in a while, we reflect back and remember the time before, and we may long for it for a moment, but at the same time, we realize that the now could not exist if the old did not change, and so in this way, somehow we are able to let go and move on...
I wish that I had some profound thing to say about the meaning of life, but really I don't. All I can think of is the line from Jerry Maguire spoken by the "late great sports agent", and mentor to Jerry Maguire, Dicky Fox. He said in the movie, regarding success, that "I loved my life, I loved my wife, and that is my kind of success." I may be paraphrasing, it's been a while since I've seen the movie. The point is, it may sound oversimplified, and I am guessing that if my old philosophy professors were to read this blog they would hang their heads in shame, but of all the things that I have heard about life, that probably makes the most sense.
So this week, I am trying to get back up on the horse. I am renewing my faith in life, and planning a bit more carefully to enjoy every moment, and to find success, as I define it. I am trying to breathe, and to have faith. I am trying not to focus on the sad, and hoping that my Uncle will find peace as he attempts to cope with his horrible disease.
Finally, I am promising to stop with all this depressing talk of death- and starting tomorrow, I will be back to administer the best medicine that I can. For now though, I hope that anyone reading this will send positive thoughts, prayers;etc. to my Uncle and his family- and if you have any extra to spare after that, I could use a few positive thoughts myself.