Thursday, November 29, 2012

Something Stinks... I Think It's Your Attitude

This morning, my oldest daughter got up on the wrong side of bed.  Well, not literally, 'cause then she would have been climbing a wall.  But she copped a constant attitude from the time I carried her out of her room (she was sharing a room with a still sleeping baby sister) all through the rest of the morning as she got ready for school. 

No, she didn't want to wear jeans.  She hates jeans.

Why did she have to wear a blue shirt?  She wanted a pink shirt.

DON'T put on her socks!  She's going to put them on AFTER breakfast!

She doesn't want to eat breakfast.

I will admit, I wasn't the perfect angel either.  With each ear-grating whine and each nerve-pinching complaint, the tenseness factor of the morning reached a boiling point.  

"You're going to eat breakfast, young lady."  I poured her a bowl of Cheerios.  "So get over here right now, straighten up your attitude and eat!"  I banged the bowl down at her place.  

She dragged herself over to the table and slunk into her chair.

"Go ahead and pray," I urged.  At this point, the last thing either of us wanted to do was drop our stinky attitudes and ask our loving Creator God to bless our food and our day.

"You pray."  My daughter tried to weasel out of it.

"No," I snapped.  "I think you need to ask Jesus to help you have a better attitude today, so you're going to pray."

My daughter finally gave in.  "Dear God," she whispered, still with a tinge of defiance, "please help me... and Mommy... to have a better attitude."


From the mouth of babes...

So those words have stuck with me through the rest of the morning.  When my son couldn't figure out a puzzle and threw the whole thing on the floor in frustration, I remembered my daughter's prayer for me.

When my toddler got hold of her leftover oatmeal bowl that she hadn't finished and contented herself with spreading it across my cushioned recliner before she was caught, I remembered my daughter's prayer for me.

When my son and daughter got into a knock-down drag-out fight over a silly toy that ended with screaming and tears, I remembered my daughter's prayer for me.

When I stared at the pile of dirty dishes on the sink that just never seems to get done and felt like throwing my own temper tantrum in protest, I remembered my daughter's prayer for me.

Today, I will not take charge of my own attitude.  I will give my attitude to God and let Him manage it.  I think He'd probably do a better job with it anyway. 

Monday, November 26, 2012


I admit it.  I'm a self-professed addict.  That's the first step, right?  Admitting it?  For the fun of it, I've written a (rare, for me) rhyming poem.  Maybe I can pull you in to my addiction... take you down with me, right? ;)

The blanketed voices of dusty friends,
The reams of pages that rarely end
Without a good guy or a bad girl or a butler's sin;
Just two more pages before I turn in - 
Or ten or twenty or two hundred and four.
The world of fiction is never a bore.
One a.m., two a.m., rub sleep from my eyes.
It's three a.m., I can't say my good-byes.
The professor's about to go over a cliff,
If he'd listened to her, I'd be asking "What if?"
What if he'd gone down the opposite road
And taken his turn to riddle the code?
What if he'd seen the main girl get shot
And dragged down the ditch where last they'd fought?
And turned full around
And dug underground
To find a tunnel
Where they buried a funnel
That led to the land
Of red flowers and sand.
Oh if only I'd known how the story would be,
I'd not have read to the hour of three.
More like four, five or six or seven or eight.
While my kids are all waiting for food on their plates,
I'd be propping my lids and wishing I had
Snoozed a just a bit.  'Cause now I'll be mad
As a hose-soaked cat who got teased by the kids,
All because I refused to shut my lids.
All for the sake of a really good book.
And all because I just had to look.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

To Cry or Not To Cry...

I apologize, World, if you happened to be in the vicinity of myself or my children today.  You have my sincerest regrets. 

5:30 a.m.: I open my bleary eyes to the insistent beeping of my husband's alarm clock.  He drags himself out of bed, gets a shower, returns to the bedroom and rouses me again for a quick kiss good-bye.  He's traveling to D.C. today for a business training session.

I'm alone with three kids.  Should be a typical day, but it's not, 'cause Jordyn's got a Thanksgiving party and I'm supposed to help.  

6:00 a.m.: I drag myself out of bed.  I sleepily shake my cereal in the bowl, grab the orange juice and start to pour it on the cereal, realize what I'm doing, return the orange juice to the fridge.  I grab the milk.  I mechanically spoon it down, shower, get dressed, brush my teeth.  Now it's time to wake the kids.

7:00 a.m.: I shake my son awake.  He pops up like he hasn't slept all night and cheerfully trots out to the kitchen.  "I want toast with PLAIN butter, Mommy," he chirps, like one of those annoying crickets.  Obviously, I'm not a morning person.

My oldest daughter is next.  She's a bit more like me.  I shake her, tickle her, pat her, wash her face with a cold washcloth.  Eventually (after the washcloth), she pulls herself awake.  In the shuffle, my 15-month-old wakes up, crying, needing to be changed.  

Suddenly everything speeds up to hyper-speed.  I feed my son his toast, at the same time change my youngest daughter's diaper, march my oldest daughter to the bathroom, squirm three wriggling bodies into a semblance of clothes, glance at the clock - need to leave at 8:00.  Brush teeth, brush hair, find tangles in hair, yank on them with hairbrush, tangles don't come out, get out scissors and cut hair.  Screaming, crying, "I don't WANT to go to school.  I WANT to stay here.  I WANT to go back to sleep!"

Drag all three kids out to the car, buckle, buckle, you buckle yourself back there, jump in the driver's seat and head down the driveway.  Oh, the party.  Back up the driveway, jump back out, run into the house, grab the 6 dozen cookies resting in several different trays to take for the party.  Load them in the van, run back in and grab the juice boxes, run those out.  Back in the van, buckle, down the driveway, to the school.  

Get to the school, the bell will ring in five minutes.  "Jordyn, can you help me carry some of these cookies in?"  I eye the huge stack of containers.  I really don't want to have to make three trips with three kids while carrying the 15-month-old.  


"Why not?"

"I don't want to."  Pout, pout.

"Jordyn, straighten up right now.  I need your help, please."  I stick a tray in her hands.  I reach in the van to get the next tray.  Crash.  The tray Jordyn was holding dumps all over the pavement.  Cookie crumbs everywhere.  

It's fine.  The kids will just have to eat cookie crumbs.  I suspect the crash was deliberate, but since my back was turned, I can't prove it.  I let it go.

I pick up the tray, salvage what I can, give the tray to my middle child, who is surprisingly in his cheerful cricket mode.  He holds it carefully.

I pick up the second tray, scold Jordyn for dropping the first tray and tell her to hold this one more securely.  Shuffling the baby to one hip, I wrangle the juice boxes and two 9x13's and my diaper bag in the other arm.  We head into the school.  Just inside the door, the second tray slips out of Jordyn's hands.  Crash.  Cookie crumbs all over the carpet.  My hands are full.  I'm helpless.  The principal (bless him) hurries over and helps scrape up what cookies haven't touched the floor.  They go back on the tray, the rest go in the trash.

I deliver said cookies, brownies, juice boxes and oldest daughter to the classroom.  My daughter is crying as I leave.  

I stifle my desire to yell at... something.  The other two kids and I head to Chick-Fil-A to kill time and let the boy run out his energy and cricket-ness on the playground.  We pull into the parking lot.

"Mommy," my son suddenly sobs.  "I don't want to pway on the pwayground.  The slide has bumps and there's other kids."

"You're going to play on the playground," I say through my teeth.  You're going to have fun, now, I mean it!  Or else!

He plays.  But his heart's not in it.  

I load the kids up again and we head to the library.  We unbuckle and head inside, where my son proceeds to empty a shelf of books while I'm trying to keep the baby on my hip and dig my library card out of my purse.  The librarian waves it off and I get the book I have on hold.  We're just finishing up, when I notice my son... standing behind the librarian, behind the counter.  "Joel," I snap.  "Get out of there."  He grins at me and comes out from behind the counter.  I am not amused.

We march back to the van, buckle up, head back to the school where I'm supposed to cheerfully help all the preschool kids with their Thanksgiving party.   At this point, cheerful is about polar opposite of how I feel.  

The party begins, I start to help the kids fill their plates.  Joel busies himself in a corner, Elena chomps down some grapes.  Jordyn's doing well sitting quietly at a table with the rest of the preschoolers.  I begin to relax.  

"Mommy."  Joel tugs at my sleeve.  He's no longer a cheerful cricket.  Now he's crying.  "I have a sore throat."

I glance nervously at a few of the other parents nearby.  My son is contaminating your kids.  Sorry.  "Shh."  I certainly don't want him broadcasting his sore throat.  I do my best to quiet him.  Elena calmly dumps the grapes all over the carpet.

It's show and tell time.  Joel is excited.  He wants to "play" too.  When he realizes that Jordyn got to "show and tell" something and he didn't get to, he wails this high-pitched, keening cry that drives a needle straight up the spine into the brain and vibrates there.  None of the 15 preschool students, or their parents, or the teacher, or me or anybody can hear themselves think.  I take Joel out into the hallway.  Elena begins to cry because she can't see me.

The teacher decides it's high time to take the kids outside to play on the playground.  This starts out well, but ends in disaster as Joel decides he wants to go to an out-of-bounds place where the preschoolers are not allowed to go.  When I pull him away, he does that horrible cry again... and doesn't stop.  I can feel the flush starting in my chest and moving up my neck and onto my cheeks.  My ears get hot and I'm sure the entire school is staring out the windows at my son... and his mother.

It's time to go in anyway.  I wrangle my son and my two daughters back inside with the rest of the kids.  Joel is still crying.  Jordyn realizes it's time to leave, so she starts crying.  Elena's naptime is coming up, so she starts crying.  All three of the kids are shriek-screaming as we head for the door.  Oops, forgot the leftover cookies.  

I grab those, make a run for the door, pile them in the van, then run back into the classroom to retrieve my screaming trio.  I apologize profusely to the poor teacher, who looks a little weary.

We get in the van, buckle and are ready to go.  I breathe a sigh of relief as we pull out of the parking lot.  

"Mommy!"  Jordyn starts to cry again.  "I forgot my teddy bear!"  

Of course, she forgot her teddy bear.  Why would anything go well today?

I stop the van, back up to the door, lock the van and grab the keys.  No way am I unbuckling everyone to head back in to search for the lost teddy.  I run into the school, back to the preschool room.  The teacher looks... overjoyed (#sarcasm)... to see me.  I explain the situation, and both of us do a quick hunt.  Nothing.

Dreading the scene that will happen in the van as I explain the missing teddy, I return slowly to the vehicle.  I open the door and do one last-ditch effort to find said teddy.  I unzip Jordyn's bag... and there it is.  "Jordyn!" I snap.  "It's right there in the bag."

She looks at me calmly.

"I know."


I get in the driver's seat and drive home.  It's a quiet ride.  I don't feel much like talking.


Friday, November 16, 2012

What Did You Say?

"Use your words," I tell my 15-month old daughter.  Because telling her to use her words when she only knows "Mamama" and "Dadadada" is so helpful.

Today, she went to stand at the refrigerator door.  "Uuuhhn."  Obviously, that means, "Mommy, could you please pour me a sippy cup of milk?  I'm very thirsty."

So I reached up in our cupboard, rifled around for a sippy cup, and pulled one out.  I filled it up with milk and handed it to her.

"Uuuhn."  She stood with the sippy cup in her hand and pointed up at the cupboard the cup came from.  The door stood open.  More sippy cups were stacked in various piles.

"You have your milk, honey."  I pointed to the sippy cup in her hand.

"UUUHNN!"  Obviously, I wasn't getting it.  

I glanced at my husband.  "Am I missing something?"  

He walked over and hefted Elena onto his hip.  "What's up, pumpkin?"

She pointed at the cupboard again.  He carried her over.  "Can you point?"

She edged her fingers around the open door of the cupboard and swung it shut with a bang.  "Uuhgn."  Obviously, that meant, "There."

Communication.  It's something we all do.  Some of us are good at it, and others... well... stink at it.  In a fight with my husband (yes, we do fight now and then *gasp*), our communication falls apart.  We're reduced to the equivalent of "uuuhn"-ing at each other.  Words just don't cut it sometimes.  Sometimes, we have to show our feelings to each other to make sure we understand. 

I think if we put half as much effort into understanding each other as we do to figuring out what each "uuunhh" of our daughter's is, we'd probably solve all our problems.  Or at least most of them. :)

When Tim comes home from work, I'm going to tell him "Uuunh."  See how long it takes him to figure out what I just said.  (Plus, he'll be really confused, and that'll make me laugh.)

Monday, November 12, 2012

The 22-Step Program of a Clothes-Shopping-Hater

22 reasons you have to drag me, kicking and screaming, to go clothes-shopping:

1. I enter the door at Kohl's.  
2. I turn right.  Because the women's clothing section is located to my left, I circle the entire store before I actually find the women's clothing section.
3. I see a beautiful outfit worn so nicely by a gorgeous plastic body.
4. I pick out said outfit to try on.  I could sure use a new look.
5. I think the plastic model has lost weight since I entered the dressing room.  Either that, or they're using one of those circus mirrors that adds pounds in all the wrong places.
6. I hang outfit on hook and leave the dressing room.
7. I feel guilty.  My mom's voice taunts in my ear: "If-all-the-world-were-just-like-me-what-kind-of-world-would-this-world-be?"  
8. I return to the dressing room.  I grab the outfit and take it to the "clothes-to-be-returned" rack.
9. I find a bigger size this time.
10. I return to the dressing room.  This time, it looks great.  
11. I glance at the pricetag. !!!!!
12. I return item to rack.
13. I find clearance rack.  Good, stuff under $10.  I grab a few things and return to the dressing room.
14. I try one on.  My horrified face in the mirror clashes with the XXXL neon green and electric orange paisley.  Oops.  Not so groovy nowadays.  And just a teensy bit roomy.
15. I return it to the rack.
16. I decide Kohl's stinks.
17. I go to Goodwill.  
18. I pick an outfit.  
19. I head to the cashier.  As she reaches her hands for my selection, I realize my choice is the same outfit I had donated to Goodwill last month.
20. I return item to rack.
21. I go home and pull out my oldest, raggediest pajamas and put them on. 
22. I vow never to return to a clothing store again in this lifetime.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Don't Worry, I'm Crying WITH You...

When I was five or six, I saw the movie, Old Yeller, for the first time.  I was an animal lover, and I had begged and begged and begged my parents to let me get a dog.  The closest they came to granting my wish was letting me watch doggie-movies.  Old Yeller, Lassie Come Home, etc.  

I'm guessing 99.9% of you have either seen Old Yeller or have heard of it, so I won't be ruining anything when I say it has a horrendously awful, terribly sad, absolutely NO GOOD ending.  

I cried for days afterward.  'Cause that's what I do, apparently (I cried for two weeks straight after seeing Episode III of Star Wars - the one where Anakin Skywalker becomes Darth Vader - yeah, that one.  I was 26 years old at the time).

At any rate, I vowed that I would never, ever, ever, NEVER, ever (does this remind you of Taylor Swift's recent really awful song?) torture myself through that story again.

Fast-forward 27 or 28 years.  My daughter was flipping through an illustrated book of old Disney stories.  She brought the book in to me and asked me to read a story.  

"Which one, honey?"

"This one!"  She pointed to a suspiciously familiar picture of a yellow dog fighting a bear.  

"No," I said.

"Mommy, please?"

Apparently, vows that you make to yourself when you're five or six do not hold anymore when you have earnest, huge blue eyes blinking up at you... with cinnamon sprinkle freckles scattered across a button nose...

"Okay, darlin', but I want you to understand that it's kind of a sad story.  You might get a little teary-eyed at the end.  You still want to read it?"

"Yeah!"  She settled herself into my side to listen.

So I read that story.  

And then I thought, life isn't all sunshine and flowers.  And my daughter will most certainly discover this at some point, probably sooner than later.  I'd rather that she figures this out at my side than stumbling around blindly trying to figure it out somewhere else.  

Sure, I love reading Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty and happily-ever-after-warm-fuzzy stories.  But sometimes, mommies need to cry with their daughters too.  

Sometimes, a mommy's tears are more comforting than any words she could possibly say.  My mommy and I have cried a lot together.  I hope my daughter and I can do the same.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Number Genius

My husband thinks I'm a little strange.  Apparently, I have no talent for anything number-wise, so math, geometry, algebra, all those... make absolutely no sense to me.  So, to compensate, I try to make "handles" for numbers so I can remember them better.

For example, a friend's address number (one of those crazy long ones): 10743.  If you start out with ten (because 10 just makes sense - everything goes to 10), then you subtract 3, you get 7.  If you subtract 3 more, you get 4, then subtract one more, you get 3.

So easy. 

(Tim groans as he reads this over my shoulder).

Recently, I was supposed to remember the number 4890 to remind Tim in case he forgot it.  (Small chance of that - my husband's a whiz at numbers).  Tim told me the number.  I thought for a minute, then said, "Okay, I've got it."  

"I'm afraid to ask.  But how are you remembering it?"

So I explained.  "90 is double 45.  45 is half of 90.  Add 3 to 45 because I have 3 kids, which gives you 48.  So 4890."

Tim asked, "How do you remember 90 in the first place?"

"Because 90 minutes is the length of most normal-paced movies."


And he thinks numbers aren't my strong point.  *Pfff* :)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Broken Crowns Teaser

Do you like mystery/suspense books?  I do.  Here's the cover of my ebook (coming in before the holidays this year).  It'd make a nice stocking-stuffer, I think. :)

Jill Lyons' life turns upside down the day she walks into her office to find her boss sprawled across his desk with a bullet hole between his eyes. 

Jeff Siegle's past catches up to him the moment he discovers his children are kidnapped.

A seemingly harmless nursery rhyme turns deadly as riddles and a shadow from the past pull them relentlessly towards death's door. Jill and Jeff struggle to find answers... before it's too late.

Happy reading! :)