Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

We had a ton of snow on the ground for Christmas, however, the last couple days, it's been downright tropical outside with temps reaching 50 degrees. This morning when I woke up, I looked out the window and saw green (well brownish-green), but still, there it was - grass! All the snow had disappeared. My friend, Jen's Facebook status said, "I'm believing it's symbolic of melting away 2010 and a positive fresh start to 2011....one can hope!" I like that. All the bad has melted away. There's no use dwelling on all the bad stuff that happened in 2010. It's over and done with. That dirty, sludgy snow isn't going to come back. It's gone.

It's time to clean up the yard and prepare for a fresh, crisp, white layer of snow. You might be surprised at what you find when you clean the clutter out. Cleaning my yard, I found a beach towel, a waterlogged phone book that had been delivered, half a bagel, a shoe, and a buried sled. When I cleaned out the junk and negative thoughts that had been cluttering my head, I found some more reasons to smile.

So, clear out the junk and make room for all the blessings that 2011 will bring. I'm ready!

But what new year would be complete without a list of resolutions? Here are my resolutions from year's past...

My resolutions for 2008

My new and improved resolutions for 2008

My resolutions for 2009

My resolutions for 2010

This is my list for 2011...

1. Start putting Baileys in my coffee for a much smoother morning.

2. Lower my cholesterol level by raising my caffeine level.

3. Buy jeans that are 2 sizes bigger so it just looks like I lost weight.

4. Bring Brooklyn with me wherever I go so people are distracted by her cuteness and they don't notice the bags under my eyes and the gray in my hair.

5. Make a list of all my passwords which should save me approximately 238 hours a year trying to remember them.

6. Drive no more than 50 miles over the speed limit.

7. Hit the snooze button only 15 times each morning.

8. Get a pet monkey.

9. Quit my day job and become a stand-up comic because they have better hours.

10. Come up with the latest money-making fad - TickleMeChiaBeanieSnuggieBandz.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Turtled

I went to grab my purse so I could run to the store. This is what I saw...



This is what my purse is supposed to look like...



Notice anything strange? Yeah. My son, the comedian, thinks it's funny to turn my purse inside out every chance he gets. Fun.

"I turtled it, Mom. We do that to the purses and backpacks of kids in school. Ha!"

Thanks, Austin! Love you!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Just Some Stuff

I'm currently number 8 on Babble's favorite blogs. There are just a couple days left to vote. You don't have to sign up for anything. You don't have to enter any information. Just click on "like" HERE.

I did an interview with Empowered Mommies HERE.

And there's an excerpt of my book on Babble HERE.

Finally, Jackson doesn't want me to go into details, but he went back in the hospital as an inpatient yesterday. It's where he needs to be right now, but it's hard. It's hard on him. It's hard on his siblings who are worried about him. And it's hard on me. But I want to thank everyone for their prayers! I know they're working. I feel the peace. I'm afraid I'd be a big blubbering mess if it wasn't for faith. Thank you so much! It means the world to me!

Monday, December 27, 2010

When the Going Gets Tough...

...the Tough Get Cleaning!

Over the past couple years, I've developed an interesting way of dealing with the chaos in my life. I never intentionally started this habit; it just sorta happened. The more out-of-control circumstances get in my life, the more I have this need to clean and organize things in my house. You see, I have this totally insatiable tiny little, almost non-existent need to be in control. And when there are things I can't control, I get a little twitchy. I tried reciting the Serenity Prayer:



"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference."

But after the recitation, I was still all mad-like about the things I couldn't control. I tried changing it up a bit.

"God grant me the courage to change the things I can;
the ultimate power to change the things I supposedly can't;
and well, basically grant me control of everything. Amen."

However, God apparently doesn't work that way.

So, when I can't get control of some major things going on in my life, I go to town cleaning out my linen closet, kitchen cabinets, underwear drawers, the refrigerator, and even (gag) the boys' room. It gives me a sense of peace. I feel like I've accomplished something when I no longer have to shove stuff in the closet, slam the door closed before the stuff falls out, and tape the door shut. When the rest of my life is chaos and mess, at least I can look in my cabinet and know that my Tupperware is conveniently stacked and easy to get to. Seeing the towels neatly folded in my closet give me a sense of calm.

(Speaking of my linen closet. I had an absurd amount of hotel toiletries. I mean, how many tiny bottles of cheap shampoo can one person use? And that's the thing! I never even use them. I take them from my hotel room, stock-pile them at home like some precious collection, and let them just sit there. Why? Why do I do this? It's not like I'm going to pack them for my next trip somewhere. Why would I do that when I know I'm going to get a fresh supply of new miniature bottles? Seriously, this is what took up one whole shelf in my closet...



I tossed an entire garbage bag filled with this stuff. Of course, a few days after I tossed all this stuff, I needed to bring the boys shampoo and soap in the hospital. Stinkin' Murphy's Law! Anyway, back to my story...)

I was thinking about adding "Drink More" to my list of new year's resolutions, but I suppose I should stick with cleaning. Its calming effect is as good as a glass of wine, plus it's free. In fact, last week, I weeded six bags of clothes and other items out of my closet and I donated them to Wings. So my need to create order out of chaos is a win-win all around. I have a clean closet, Wings got some donations for their resale shop, the money those items will earn will help the women and children in Wings' safe house, and mostly, I was able to get a grip on my swirling emotions in a healthy way.

Now I'll end with my new and improved, new and improved Serenity Prayer.

"God, I know you'll always give me the tools I need to handle whatever comes my way. But please put a stop to the chaos in my life before I start alphabetizing my cans of soup. Amen."

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Speech Therapy

I got what I wanted for Christmas. I was able to pick up Jackson and bring him home Christmas afternoon. Jackson will be going to the partial hospitalization program on Monday and Austin will probably be graduating from the partial program on Monday. So, it was a good quiet Christmas here at home with my kids. Santa brought us Just Dance 2 for Wii. We had a ton of fun playing this. Actually, let me rephrase that. Savannah had fun kicking our butts. Jax, Lex, and Austin had fun dancing. I had fun listening to the kids tell me it looked like I was having a seizure. I think they were just jealous because I looked like a Rockette, or that chick from Flashdance. After the third song, I was pretty sure I was having a heart attack, so I quit and sat down to have some Christmas cookies and egg nog (the American Heart Association's recommended treatment for heart attack).

I noticed something Christmas day. I mean, it's really been on the edges of my brain for some time, but it completely sunk in yesterday. It has to do with Clay's vocabulary, or more specifically, these three words that seem to permeate his speech on a regular basis. Poop, Fart, and Butt. Every Christmas carol he sings has his new and improved lyrics. "Frosty the poopman had a very farty butt." "He sees you when you're pooping, he knows if you're awake..." Rudolph, the poop-butt reindeer..."

It's not just Christmas songs either. Nope, these three words are an integral part of his daily rhetoric. For example,

"What do you want for lunch, Clay?"

"Spaghetti and poopballs."

Imagine his surprise if I actually served up that delicacy.

"Clay, get in bed and I'll tuck you in."

As he runs off toward his bedroom, blowing raspberries, "I'm fartman!

Hmmm, on second thought, maybe I won't tuck you in.

I'm sure it's just a phase he's going through. I seem to recall the older kids going through a potty talk phase. Of course, with them, I'm thinking this occurred back when they were actually potty training and not when they were nearly SEVEN years old, but hey, a phase is a phase, right? I wonder if I could take him to speech therapy for this because I'm afraid this is going to be a long-lasting phase. Why, you ask? Because no matter how straight-faced and stern I manage to stay when he spouts his potty talk, there are five other kids who find it hilarious and let him know by laughing their poopy butts off.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Just an Update

Jackson was admitted to the hospital a couple nights ago.

You know what sucks about having your child in the hospital for depression? It's not like a regular hospital. I don't get to sit at their bedside the way I would if they were sick, or being treated for some illness, or recovering from surgery. There are very specific visiting hours and they aren't even every day. You have to check in with the desk and leave your purse, cell phone, and all belongings in your car. You have to have a password to see your child. Once you get to your child's unit, you have to be let in a locked door, where you sign in and let the staff inspect anything you've brought for your child. You can't bring them balloons, stuffed animals, flowers, candy, cookies, treats of any kind. You can bring them clothes without drawstrings or other potentially dangerous elements. You can bring them cards without staples or anything that could be fashioned into a tool to harm themselves or others. Jackson will probably be in the hospital for Christmas. His brothers and sisters can only visit him one at a time with me, so they'll each have only about ten minutes with him.

You can only call your child during certain, specific phone hours and you only have ten minutes to talk to them because other patients are waiting to use the phones. When you visit your child, you sit with every other patient and parent in a common room and don't have privacy to really talk to them confidentially about how they're doing, what they're feeling, etc.

Now I know all these measures are in place to keep the patients safe. I understand that. I accept that. That's why the patients are there in the first place - it's a safe environment in which to recover and get help.

But, as a parent, it feels like I'm visiting someone in jail. It sucks to have your child away from home and know that you can only talk to/see them at set, infrequent times. It bites to not be able to even bring your child a little gift or treat to help cheer them up. It's scary and confusing your first time navigating the maze of corridors and all the locked doors to get to your child. It's annoying having to sign in multiple times and be checked out as if you're a criminal, trying to smuggle a file in a cake to your child who is locked up.

And with two children in this environment right now, I spend all my time driving back and forth to the hospital (an hour round-trip) for visits, meetings with case workers, family therapy sessions, dropping off clothes or chapstick or homework or other items my child requests. It especially stinks because every time I go, I have to leave Savannah in charge of taking care of the other ones so I have guilt about that. I try to make it up to her by driving her to the mall and the movies, etc. with her friends at some point most days. I feel like I haven't cooked a decent meal in forever. I usually like to do fun things with my kids during Christmas break. This year, I'm ignoring the younger ones to take care of the ones in the hospital. They're bored and running around like rabid monkeys with way too much energy and no outlet for it right now.

And to top it all off, this is a busy time of year. I've dropped the ball on baking, buying presents, wrapping, sending out cards, getting together with friends, pretty much everything. But none of that seems to even matter to me this year.

The kids' therapists keep asking me, "What are you doing for yourself? How are you holding up? Are you taking care of yourself?" I joke and tell them that I've penciled in my nervous breakdown for the middle of March, but I'm far too busy to worry about myself right now. And to all of you who are going to leave comments, telling me that I need to take time for myself and I need to take care of myself or I won't be good for anyone else, all I have to say is, "You're not a single mother to six kids." I don't get a break every other weekend. I don't have family that comes by once a month to help out. I do not have time. Period.

But I do have the most awesome friends on the planet. I always have a shoulder to cry on. I have an ear willing to listen to me. I have tons of people who invited my family over for Christmas. Thank you to Eric and Gin and Margaret for your thoughtful gestures and your kind, generous spirits this week! I appreciate it more than you can imagine!


So, this week, as you make your last-minute preparations for Christmas; as you stress out over the little details that we tend to give more importance to than they deserve, remember to take a minute to remember why you're celebrating. Give thanks for family that is with you and pray for those members who aren't. Take time to give thanks and to enjoy your family.

I'm sorry I haven't had much funny to write about lately. Don't worry, because I still look at the situation as positive. My kids are getting help. They talked to me and asked for help. We have a good, strong relationship. Things will get better. Things will be okay. And I'll be back to writing about how they did an experiment with a carton of eggs, soap, and chopsticks in the bathtub in no time.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday Sound Out

From Chicago, the city that tastes like a peppermint patty, it's your host, the woman who just spent half an hour digging through a bag of garbage, looking for the tooth that Clay lost and Lexi accidentally threw away, Dawn Meehan! (She found it too!)

And now, here are the answers to the world's most pressing questions.

SSO question - Do you get annoyed when your comments include spelling or grammatical errors?
If I catch an error that I'VE made, it makes me nuts! If it's an error that someone else has made, it depends. If they've taken the time to write me a lovely comment, telling me how wonderful I am, I overlook the mistakes. If they're sending me hate mail, however, I circle all the spelling mistakes and grammatical errors in red Sharpie, then post it online so everyone can laugh at them.

This might sound silly but does Brooklynn have make-up on [in the picture with Santa]? SHE IS BEAUTIFUL!!

Thank you and nope, Brooklyn doesn't wear makeup. I think four is a little young to wear makeup. I make the girls wait until they're at least five years old before taking them on their inaugural run to Sephora.

On a side not did you ever consider homeschooling. Back when you had just one or two kids?
I thought about homeschooling as much as I thought about jumping out in front of a car, or pounding a railroad stake through my head.

Wherever did you find that red dress for Brooklyn? She outshines Santa..I would imagine the store ownership thrust fistfuls of dollars at you to hire the kid out for their advertising campaign. No? Well..It could happen!

I found it at Target, of course. And nope, she's not doing any advertising for them. I do think she has a good shot at the part of Veruca Salt if they ever remake Willy Wonka again, however.

SSO Q: How do you keep Christmas under control, do you go through their toys before Christmas to get rid of ones they don't play with before they get new ones? Also, do you try to get every child the same number of presents, or base it off of what they are asking for vs. price of that item?

We do go through things and donate them before Christmas, but honestly, my kids don't have an overabundance of toys. We have a very small house (like 1100 square feet with no basement) and there's just not room for stuff like that. I try to remind the kids what Christmas is all about. We put together shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child and watch movies like Veggie Tales, Saint Nicholas: A Story of Joyful Giving (that's a good one for kids and adults alike!) As far as presents go, I try to spend roughly the same amount on each kid, but that's harder and harder to do as they get older.

You never showed us a picture of Bob [the name I bestowed on my dermoid cyst]!
I know! The cyst was actually in my ovary and not on it. My doctor gave me pictures of the ovary, but you can't see the nasty cyst. I was bummed. She did show me pictures of all the endometriosis she found, however. That explains a lot of symptoms I've been having.

First you had to replace your catalytic converter, then your furnace breaks, then your vacuum, then your kitchen faucet. How do you handle it when everything happens at once like that?
That's nothing. Stuff breaks. It happens. It sucks, but life goes on. And life has a way of putting things in perspective.

For example, Austin has been battling depression since this summer. He started cutting himself as a way to deal with the stresses he was experiencing. He also stopped eating and lost a lot of weight, all while claiming he was fat. To make a long story short and spare you the details, he was hospitalized for a week for self-injury and an eating disorder. He's going on week three of the outpatient program now. I've spent every waking moment, worrying about him, trying to function as normally as I can for the other kids, and waking everyone up early and loading the little kids in my freezing car to drive him back and forth every day, then rushing to get the little ones to school and pick everyone up at the same time in towns that are half an hour away.

Meanwhile, Jackson is having issues with depression and acting out by punching me, talking back, breaking things, and putting his fist through the walls. Clay's not dealing all that well either. The kids' therapist says that it's normal and a million articles have been written about boys having a hard time when their dad disappears (and girls having a hard time adjusting when it's the mom who leaves).

Honestly, this past year, I've been so mad at Joe for abandoning the kids. I mean, I'd reached a state of total apathy over the past several years. I felt nothing for him. But after leaving my kids in such a cruel way, I was PISSED. However, I've even come to terms with this now. Joe was in no shape to be a dad this past year. He had to take care of himself and if he'd been in the kids' lives, I'm afraid they'd be even worse off now. He's been calling them for the past few weeks which is good, in a way, but it's made the depression and bad behavior even worse. I may as well just move in to the therapist's office these days.

I haven't spoken to my parents since before Thanksgiving. In a way, it may be a good thing to cut ties there. I mean, when my parents watched my kids while I was in California, my mom constantly made comments like, "Two days, five hours, and twenty-three minutes!" when one of my friends called to see if they could pick up one of my kids for a playdate. When the airline accidentally called my home to tell me my flight had been delayed, my mom answered and begged the woman on the other end to get me on the soonest flight possible because she was stuck there watching my six kids. I'm sure she thought it was cute and funny that she was counting down like that, but what my kids heard was, "I can't stand being here and am counting down the seconds until I can get away from you guys." Because of all the drama, we weren't invited to celebrate Christmas at my sister's with everyone else. I personally don't care that much and am looking forward to spending a quiet Christmas day here at home with my kids. My kids, on the other hand, get to end the year with several other family members showing them how unimportant they are.

This is why a broken vacuum cleaner is nothing. It's small potatoes. The other stuff is important. It's important that I continue to spend as much time as possible with my kids. It's important that I continue to talk to them every day. I thank God for my relationship with my kids! If it wasn't for that, Austin wouldn't have come to me and told me about his problems and trusted me to get him help. God is good. He loves us and can even use the crap that happens for good. I totally believe that, so I keep going. In fact, if you're hurting this holiday season, or if you're having a hard time dealing with circumstances beyond your control, let me direct you to my dear friend, Margaret McSweeney's website. She's the heart behind the book, Pearl Girls and right now, she's featuring inspirational stories from some amazingly talented ladies on her blog HERE. She's also giving away pearls if you leave a comment there. Please check it out. Margaret is such an awesome friend. If you want to see her in action, check out this short interview she did with Rachel Ray HERE. And, and, and, she's giving away an autographed copy of my new book, You'll Lose the Baby Weight (and other lies about pregnancy and childbirth) HERE!!!

That's it for this week's edition. Now go out and get those last minute stocking stuffers and don't forget the chocolate coins! :)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

At Least They're Cute

I had Brooklyn's teacher conference the other day. Her teachers showed me her little report card. Brooklyn had gotten straight X's in every subject. (That's the preschool equivalent of A's.)She rocks in subjects like Counts to Ten, Holds Scissors Correctly, and Gallops. I'm telling you, this girl is going places!

Her teachers continued to tell me that Brooklyn not only knows what she's doing in school, but she's always happy to help the kids sitting at her table.

They ended with, "If we had eighteen Brooklyns in class, we'd be happy."

Oh yeah! I walked out of there beaming because, clearly, it was my stellar parenting that had earned her such a glowing report. I must be the most awesome mom on the planet. How else could you possibly explain my daughter's brilliance? I quickly drove home so I could start filling out college applications for her. However, when I walked in the door, all my dreams were dashed.

"Hey Mom! Will you sign this?" Clay asked, as he handed me a piece of paper.

I looked at the paper and started reading. "...Clayton was standing on the toilet seat goofing off in the bathroom..."

I sighed, shaking my head in defeat. "Thanks for putting me in my place, Clay."

"What, Mom?"

"I said, Clayton Reid Meehan, why on earth were you standing on the toilet seat?! You have GOT to learn to think first and then make a good choice!"


Okay, so maybe my kids aren't quite the brilliant products of my stellar parenting. Still, they're kinda cute...

"Mom, this is NOT the real Santa. He sounds like a Muppet and his beard falls down when he talks."


"But I'll pose and smile nice for a picture with this impostor because you never know, he might have ties to the real deal."

Monday, December 13, 2010

Correction

It was brought to my attention that I pay attention about as well as my children, apparently. I gave you some wrong information about PASS from American Express. The $3.95 monthly fee I talked about, has actually been waived until next October. I misread the information and thought the fee had only been waived until this past October. I apologize.

Also, the monthly fee, which won't even begin until the end of next year, will be taken from the funding source (in my teens' cases, that's my checking account). The fee is not taken off the balance of the card.

Knowing that, my teens and I are definitely keeping/using the PASS cards!

I'm sorry for the misinformation I wrote in my previous blog post.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday Sound Out

From Chicago, where every street is an ice rink, it's your host, the woman who is sick and sounds like Roz from Monsters Inc., Dawn Meehan. "I'm watching you, Wazowski, always watching."

Really, I have real questions about laundry. How many loads a day do you do? There are five of us and I have so many piles of laundry its not even funny! Also, what kind of hampers do you use? Do each of the kids have one? Do you have two or three in the hallway? How do you manage it?
I'm a little disturbed that you find the subject of laundry so fascinating, but I'll try to answer your questions. I do about 4 loads a day, every day. I use cracked, broken, falling-apart, plastic laundry baskets, but I refuse to replace them because I know they'll just break again. That's what happens when your kids turn them upside down and climb on them to reach something on top of the refrigerator. Or when they turn them upside down, put one kid (the lion) under the basket while the other kids (people at the zoo) poke the lion through the holes with chopsticks. Or when the kids place a sibling in the basket, dump it over on its side, and roll the sibling around the house until they get dizzy and throw up. Or when they make pretty designs by weaving broken silly bands through all the holes. Or when they jump off the couch, try to clear the basket, but catch the edge of it on their foot, knocking the basket down and landing on top of it. Or when they, sigh, you get the idea. I have two small baskets that sit in the kids' rooms and I have two large baskets that stay in the laundry room. Er, well, they're supposed to stay in the laundry room. Three of the four are generally full. The one in the boys' room is usually empty because they have yet to learn how to use it. I manage it by remembering that the only way out of doing laundry is death and most days I'd prefer to do laundry.

P.S... Will you add me on Facebook again?
Yes, but you have to vote for me
HERE. Or send me chocolate. Or come babysit so I can have one night off.

Did you end up going with the fancy tax credit furnace or just a regular one?
I got the furnace that heats your house, folds your laundry, makes fabulous salads, and drives the kids to hockey practice.

Also, I'm from the South, so I'm not quite sure about furnaces. Is what you call a furnace what we call a heater? A big unit that pumps hot air through the vents? Or are they different?
Uh yeah. It's kinda like how we call carbonated soft drinks "pop" and you call them all "Coke".

Do you save your Facebook posts in a file for future reference at the time you post them?? (Or is there some nifty software you use?)
I am not that computery. I just clicked a little button on Facebook that said "Make your own year in review". It did all the work for me.

The best the moth can do is try to suffocate you with your own pillow. That HARDLY ever happens.Feel better now?
I don't really feel better about your questionable moth theory, but I'm at peace knowing that no creature could survive in this frozen tundra so I'm safe until next summer.


Now, stop by Lisa's blog because she's giving away a Tassimo T20 Brewbot by Bosch along with a copy of my book, You'll Lose the Baby Weight (and other lies about pregnancy and childbirth). What better way to spend a freezing cold day then curled up with a fabulous book and a cuppa hot chocolate? (Note how I said my book was fabulous? I can do that cuz it's my book and all.)

Friday, December 10, 2010

PASS by American Express

Austin and Savannah have been using their PASS cards (not a credit or debit card, but a prepaid, reloadable card geared to teenagers from American Express) for a few months. Now that they've really had a chance to try them out, I asked them what they liked/disliked about them. Between me and my teens, we came up with this list of pros -

1. They could easily go online and track their spending. The parent could also go online and check up on their teen's spending as well.
2. It was more convenient than carrying a bunch of cash when they went to shop/hang out at the mall.
3. It was convenient for me to give them their allowance by simply clicking a couple buttons to add funds to their accounts since I almost never have cash on me.
4. PASS comes with the same safety features as American Express. If the card is lost or stolen, you don't have to worry about it, unlike cash.

But we also came up with this list of cons -

1. My daughter said that she didn't like having to sign for purchases.
2. Although it was convenient at the mall or the movies, the kids couldn't use PASS to pay for many of the things they spend money on like tickets to the high school football games, or for a snack in the lunchline at school.
3. There's a $3.95 monthly fee for the PASS card. That might not seem like a lot, but to a teen who is getting maybe $10-$25 a month, that's quite a bit of their allowance gone just to be able to use the card.
4. Although it's super-convenient to load money on the card, it does take a few days for the money to actually show up in their accounts.

All in all, we liked the PASS cards, but because of the monthly fee, probably won't continue to use them. Using these cards did open up the lines of communication between me and my teens and we had some good discussions about money.

To read my articles about teens and finances, click any of these links.

THE MONEY TALK

CASH, CHECK, OR CHARGE?

BUT I NEEEED IT!

KEEPING TRACK

IF ONLY I'D KNOWN

CHRISTMAS SPENDING

SAVER OR SPENDER?

Thank you to American Express for empowering me to try out PASS with my teens.

*****************************************
CORRECTION!

It was brought to my attention that I pay attention about as well as my children, apparently. I gave you some wrong information about PASS from American Express. The $3.95 monthly fee I talked about, has actually been waived until next October. I misread the information and thought the fee had only been waived until this past October. I apologize.

Also, the monthly fee, which won't even begin until the end of next year, will be taken from the funding source (in my teens' cases, that's my checking account). The fee is not taken off the balance of the card.

Knowing that, my teens and I are definitely keeping/using the PASS cards!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Year in Review

Here's the year in review via my Facebook status updates...
~ OK, I know I've had some wine, but why is there an ad for chicken nuggets in Spanish scrolling across my computer?
~ 50 inch spider crawling on ceiling. Tried to smoosh it. I missed. He's out for revenge. He's gonna chew my face off in my sleep, I just know it!
~ I hear Clay & Brooklyn in the kitchen doing an experiment with cups, water, poker chips, yogurt, and ice. I'm avoiding them. Yes, I know I'll need gasoline and a match to clean up the mess, but for now - ignorance is bliss.
~ I think I just fell asleep in the middle of a sentence. Should I be concerned?
~ Play-Doh is of the devil, I tell ya! The DEVIL!
~ Deep breaths, deep breaths, deep breaths. It's only powdered sugar. And water balloons. And soap. And soaking wet towels. And melting strawberry, umm, goo. It could be worse; there could be a shaved cat involved.
~ 12 kids, a makeshift slip-n-slide with a tarp and a hose. Oh yeah, this'll end well.
~ Thinking that birthday cake and Mai Tais might not be the best diet. Oh who am I kidding? It's an awesome diet!
~ You know you can't have cookies for breakfast. Oh what the heck. I'm tired. Want some ice cream to go with them, kids?
~ What do you wanna be when you grow up, Brooklyn? A mom! Or a mermaid. It's good she's got a back-up plan.
~ Don't worry. That noise you hear is just Brooklyn. Her head is exploding because I didn't get her a Baby Bottle Pop at the store.
~ For sale: one slightly used four-year-old. She comes with her own tiara. Tantrums included for free.
~ There's a moth the size of a BAT in my room! I sprayed it with perfume. It's drunk and angry now. I can't sleep or it'll eat my face off.
~ It's all fun and games until someone's hit with a seventy mph jellyfish.
~ What kind of sick, twisted people get up this early?
~ You know the sound a 2-liter bottle of pop makes as it's shaken, opened, and dripping from the ceiling? I do.
~ I walked outside and stepped on something cold and wet and squishy. Now I have to cut my foot off.
~ Why is Brooklyn's shoe filled with chewed gum? Why do I even ask these things? Nevermind.
~ I may have to make a chocolate run. I mean, go out to the store for chocolate. Not have the runs because of chocolate. That would be gross. Not that it would stop me from eating chocolate or anything. Okay, I'll stop talking now.
~ At football game. I'm positive they make up the rules as they go along.
~ I thought I had x-ray vision. Nope, my kid is just running around naked again.
~ Clay took a bite of dinner and said, "This tastes like a raccoon." Not sure where he's been eating, but I'm pretty certain raccoon's never been on my menu.
~ Austin put a shrimp in his glass of sparkling cider and said, "Look! Shrimp cocktail!"

Don't Be Jealous!

How much email do you get every day, Dawn?

I get more emails than I have time to read, so I delete the silly stuff in order to make time to read the important ones like this.


Hello How are you today, I hope all is well with you .I am sorry to worry you with my proposal for a relationship with you, but I know that you will grant my request in good faith and understanding, My name is aja I just went through your profile and i have no options than letting you know that i am interested in having a relationship with you, I will also like to Know you the more, you can send an email to my email address (ajajohn5@ymail.com) this is it (ajajohn5@ymail.com) so that I can send you more details about my self including my picture. I believe we can move from here. But bear in mind that love has no colors barrier, no educational back ground barrier, no socio-economic barrier, religious, language, nationality or distance barrier, the only important thing there is love. I am waiting for your mail to my email address above. Yours sincerely. Aja,


Woo Hoo! I think I've found my next husband!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Yule-tide Carols Being Sung by a Choir

I went to Clayton's Christmas concert at school last night. I remember going to Austin and Savannah's first Christmas concerts. I recall dressing Savannah in a fancy red holiday dress and spending a ton of time playing with her hair, styling it into an updo that would have made any bride jealous. I decked Austin out in dress pants with a collared shirt under a Bill Cosbyesque Christmas sweater, his hair parted neatly and smoothed down. I made sure to arrive at the school a good 45 minutes early to get close seats and set up the video camera. I knelt in the aisle so I could get an unobstructed view and tears sprang to my eyes as my children opened their mouths and began to sing. Could there be anything more adorable than this? I thought.

Fast forward through 24 holiday concerts.

"Clayton! Stop running around and put your shoes on! C'mon, we have to leave or we're gonna be late! Oh crap, that's right, you're supposed to wear red or green. Jackson, look in his closet and see if there's anything holidayish. I don't know where the hairbrush is. Who moved it? Ugh, just put a hat on. You're fine! Let's go!"

We got to the school and told Clay to run to his classroom while we got seats. Of course, by the time we got to the lunchroom, nearly every chair was taken. We were in the back, behind a thousand parents and could hardly see the stage. But considering this was Clay's concert and Clay was likely to be goofing off and hitting the kids next to him, I figured that was a good thing.

"I know we can't see anything from here, guys, but on the bright side, we're closer to the exit if we have to make a hasty getaway because Clay has pushed a poor kid off the stage."

I glanced around at the other parents with their full arsenal of video equipment. They looked like they were getting ready to tape a breaking story for the local news. Seriously, one guy had a camera the size of a microwave oven on a tripod with a boom mic. I kid you not. I wasn't sure whether to laugh at him or feel guilty that I'd hastily thrown a camera in my purse even though I knew I wouldn't be able to get close enough to get any pictures of my son.

During the concert, I caught quick glimpses of Clay when the planets aligned and the parents in front of me all moved their heads just so at the same time. I was also able to pick out "the shouter". You know what I'm talking about? There's always that one kid at the concert who's just a little too enthusiastic about the songs. You can clearly hear their voice ringing out over all the others as they shout, "SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN!" This year it was a little girl in a red dress. At one point, she started jogging in place and hopping up and down while shouting singing. I leaned over to my friend and whispered, "There's a future aerobics instructor."

I was also able to find the nose picker, the I-don't-want-to-be-here pouter, the contender for America's Funniest Home Videos, and the I-have-to-go-now pee pee dancer.

This was the only best picture I got of Clay. I know, I know. Hanging my head in shame.


I probably shouldn't admit this. I'm sure I'm violating the Mom Code, but...well, is it wrong that I'm counting down? Only 12 more gradeschool concerts to sit through!

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P.S. If you have time, take a minute and go on over to Babble to vote for my blog. It just takes a second to click "like". You don't have to sign up for anything. (I have a Monica-like need to make it to the top 10.) Thank you! BABBLE.COM

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The One with all the Butts

So, I broke down and got a new furnace yesterday. The guy who installed it is a family friend who works for a heating and cooling company. He and his wife are good people so I know he gave me the best deal he could. And I'd rather give him the money than some big company.

He was in the middle of removing my old furnace when Clay piped up and said very loudly (Clay only has one volume so of course, it was loud), "I hope I don't see his buttcrack! When we picked Brooklyn up from preschool today, there was a guy working on the wall and he was lying on the floor and we could totally see his buttcrack! It was hairy too! It was DIS-GUST-ING!"

Clay was right. If the guy at the preschool had had his pants down any farther, they would've been OFF. It wasn't pretty. I'm sure there are a couple dozen preschoolers scarred for life now.

My eyes quickly darted over to my friend to see if he'd heard. The sight of him chuckling to himself assured me he'd heard every word. Much to my relief, however, his shirt was neatly tucked in, not so much as an inch of crack showing.

His buddy, who showed up to help him a few minutes later, on the other hand, had not learned the importance of the shirt-tucking technique. I really think the buttcrack issue should be covered in any heating and cooling school. And any plumbing school. And electrician school. And auto mechanics school. Really, any member of the blue collar community should learn how to tuck their shirts in, pull their pants up, or at least work those glutes and wax those butt cheeks so we don't mind seeing their butts hang out so much. What? I'm single! I can look at butts. Not that I did or anything. But I could. You know, if the opportunity arose. Just sayin'. Not that I really even care about butts. I'll take a nice, strong, muscley pair of arms over a butt any day. I mean, I guess a guy should have a butt in addition to the arms otherwise, he'd just look weird. And his pants probably wouldn't fit right if he had no butt. I have no idea why I'm talking about butts. I'm blaming it on the 15 years of diaper changing. Okay, moving along...

Hmmm, you'd think I'd have a point here, wouldn't you? It's late and I just spent the last ten minutes talking about butts. Oh yeah! My point is just that it's really nice to have heat again. It's been in the low 20s here in Chicago. It even snowed yesterday. Isn't it funny how you never even notice things like heat until they're gone? Then you learn to fully appreciate them. (Although I'm still ready to move someplace that doesn't require a working furnace.)

Now, I have to get some sleep so I don't sound like an idiot (or more of an idiot) while I'm speaking at the luncheon for Wings tomorrow. It's not too late to go! You local folks can join me for lunch tomorrow (Friday). It'll be fun. I promise not to talk about butts. I can't promise that my date, Brooklyn won't talk about butts though.

Here's a link with details about the luncheon and trunk show. Check it out. And you can buy gently used, fashionable, chic baby clothes and gear while you're there. If you have no need for baby items anymore, you can bring your gently used or new baby items to benefit Wings. It's for a great cause! Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It's the Little Things

I never finished blogging about this, but this summer, all six kids and I took part in a service project for 77 Kids by American Eagle. I wrote about how we served lunch to the families staying at a local Ronald McDonald House HERE. But I never wrote about the second part of our mission.

77Kids also gave each blogger $77 dollars in singles to use in whatever pay-it-forward way we wanted. This was right around the time that my kids went on a mission trip with my church, so I gave the money to the youth leader and told her to use it however she saw fit to help with the kids' mission work.

On the way home from the mission trip to MI, the junior high kids stopped in a town and handed out these dollars to the folks they saw on the street. Attached to each dollar was a note. On one side of the note were ideas of things you could do with the dollar - things like buy a stranger a cup of coffee, pay someone's toll, etc. On the other side, were ideas you could do for free - things like open the door for someone, shovel a neighbor's sidewalk, etc.

The idea was not only to pass these dollars on to people to show them that someone cares, but to encourage them to continue the chain of kindness by paying it forward.
(I love that 77Kids chose a project like this for their advertising!)


This was the best part of the mission trip for a lot of the kids, including my Jackson. They loved handing out these dollars! Not only did they hand them out, but they took a minute to talk with the people they gave them to. They explained what the dollars were for. Just think. What if every one of these people, in turn, did something nice for one other person? And what if every one of those people turned around and did something nice for yet another person? How cool would that be?!


It doesn't take much to be a blessing in another person's life - a smile, a moment to talk, a mere dollar, a simple act of kindness. You never know how far that little act will travel. :)


















I'm Frozen and I Don't Know What to Do

Does anyone have a crystal ball I can borrow? I really need one right now. You see, my furnace went out this morning. It was 30 degrees here today. Brrrr! So I had my friend come look at it tonight. The circuit board is bad. It'll cost about $500 to replace it. My furnace is 16 years old. These usually last about 17-18 years. I can replace the circuit board and cross my fingers that I'll get another season or two out of it. Although, my friend mentioned that the parts that generally need to be replaced at some point are all still original parts, so there's a decent chance that even if it lasts another couple years, these parts will nickle and dime me.

Or -

I could get a new furnace. And the good news is that there's a tax credit of about $1000 if I get this more efficient furnace. And my gas bill will probably drop a bit too. Although, it'll kinda suck to tell the kids, "Merry Christmas! Here's your new furnace! Enjoy!"

Then again, if I spend the money on a new furnace and I end up moving this spring/summer, I'll feel like I just wasted that money.

But if I don't get a new one now and it goes out in a couple months, I'll have wasted $500 on the circuit board and I'll be outta luck on the tax credit.

I HATE decisions like this! Because no matter what you decide, you'll always second guess yourself and wonder if you made the right choice. And there's no winning. If I replace it, I'm certain it would have lasted at least another five years with no problems. If I don't replace it, it'll die for good January 1st.

Sooo, what I need to know is this. Exactly how long will my current furnace last if I only replace the circuit board? Someone look into their crystal ball and tell me, please. That will make my decision so much easier. Oh, and while you're looking, let me know if we're going to move next year. Oh yeah, and if you could give me the winning lottery numbers, that would also be helpful. Oh and one last thing, could you also tell me if my children will ever learn to keep food out of the family room and hang up their stinkin' coats or should I just give up now? Thank you.

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