Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Why are we talking about CHRISTMAS already?!

Alright, y'all....I'm having a very large discussion in my head right now and I was hoping you might be able to help me clear it up.  Isn't this just your lucky day?

PS...I've never used the term "y'all" in my life.  Yet it fits so nicely right up there.  Don'tcha think?

Aaaaanyway.  My kids are ages 10, 8, 4, and 3.  They all still believe in Santa.

Yes, I did say ALL of them.  As of yet, no one has spilled the beans to my 10-year-old son.  And if they have, I've been able to contradict whatever was said so effectively that my little dude buys it hook, line, and sinker.  (I can be very convincing.  Especially if I stare deeeeplyyyyy into your eyyyyyyyyyyyes.)

Ask me any Santa-related question and I can b.s. my way right through it.  With a straight face!

"When we went to the breakfast with Santa, was that the REAL Santa?"  Answer...."No way!  Real Santa is far too busy to hang out here!  The Santas that you see here or at the mall are pretend.  They are the helpers who step in when Real Santa is very busy or when he has a hangover from date night with the Missus.  Isn't it nice that they help him out?"

"Mommy, why can't Santa bring me all of the things I want?"  Answer....."Because Santa has rules that are just like Mommy's rules.  You don't always get everything you ask for.  Do I buy you every single toy that you want?  No?  Well neither does Santa."

"How does Santa know if we've been bad?"  Answer...."I send him a monthly e-mail that contains a detailed list of your recent transgressions."  ???  "Mommy, what does 'transgressions' mean?"  Answer...."It means that you're evil sometimes and you make Mommy cry."

"MOM!  We took down the fireplace!!  OMG HOW WILL SANTA GET IN THE HOUSE?!?!?!?!"  Answer....."Santa has a magical set of keys that he can use to get into the houses that don't have fireplaces.  You know all of those people who live in apartment buildings?  They don't have fireplaces!  So Santa uses his magical keys to commit multiple misdemeanors on Christmas."  ???  "What's a misdemeanor?"  Answer...."It's when Santa breaks into your house just politely enough so as to avoid a felony."

"My friend at school today said that there's no Santa and that it's your mom and dad who buy the gifts."  Answer....."Pfffft!  That's a good one!!  We TOTALLY can't afford to buy gifts for y'all!  That's SANTA'S job!"

You get the idea?  I'm just FULL of the answers.

But here's the problems.  Kids can be mean.  Really mean.  I'm imagining a scenario in January that goes something like this:

Little 5th grade hoodlums:  "Hey, Nick!  What's up?  How was your vacation?"
My sweet baby boy:  "Christmas vacation was great!  Santa brought me a new DS!"
My sweet baby boy:  " was just joking."

Do you see my quandary?!  I want to keep up with the Santa fantasy....but I don't want my son getting wedgied on the playground during recess.  AND CHRISTMAS IS ONLY 2 MONTHS AWAY, PEOPLE!  My boys spent an hour this evening studying every page of the Toys R Us gift catalog and making careful notes on every item they might want.  I could hear their very serious conversation from the kitchen.

Ben:  "Ooo!  That's cool!"
Nicholas:  "Yeah, but it's $300.  Santa doesn't bring things that are so expensive."
Ben:  "Oh yeah.  I remember."
Nicholas:  "We have to ask Mom if it's okay to put the expensive things on our list.  And don't forget, Ben.  If the thing you ask for is, like, $150 or something, that's the only thing you'll get."
Ben:  "Yep.  I remember that, too."

And the cherry on top of this mess?  I get a little teary every time I think about it cuz I'm a giant sentimental SAP who cries at the drop of a hat.  (I wish I were joking.  It gets old sometimes.) 

I think I have to tell them.  But do I tell them before Christmas?  Or do I enjoy one final Santa-filled extravaganza and tell them the truth before they head back to school?

Crap.  I do not want to tell them.  I don't want to have this conversation.

Maybe I'll distract them by explaining sex instead.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Once again....thank you

I know that, as a blogger, it's very "uncool" to care about things like blog stats and how many followers are listed over there on the right.  All the cool kids say, "Oh I don't care....I only write for ME and it doesn't matter if anyone reads it."

Apparently I'm not one of the cool kids.  Never have been.  And that's okay with me.

Yes....first and foremost, I write for myself.  This wee li'l brain of mine is swimming with thoughts and ideas and stories and I'm thankful that there's a place for me to vent or celebrate or laugh or cry (for free!).  I like the idea that someday I'll have all of these pieces to re-read and remember these days that are passing far too quickly.  I like knowing that my kids might read this someday and realize that I'm not just their momma....I'm a human being with thoughts and feelings that don't always revolve around them.

And yet.  My tummy does a little flip when I see the stats go up or when I get a comment on a post or when I see that there's another follower.  Do you know why?  It's not because I consider this to be a popularity contest.  "Whee!  I have 100 followers so that makes ME better than YOU!  BAHAHAHA!"

It's because I know that you have far better things to do with your time than to sit at your computer and read the various ramblings of yet another Mom who is trying to be witty and charming and heartfelt.  I know that.  You know that.  But here you are....taking time from your very busy life to read what I've written.  You made a conscious decision to spend a precious 10 minutes here.  And sometimes, you're inspired enough to leave a comment!  I can't tell you how happy that makes me.

My own big brother visited here to read the story about the liver and made my day by leaving a comment for the very first time.  Trust me when I say that he has more important matters on his plate right now....but he stopped by anyway.  He put a smile on my face and it has been there ever since.

Maybe, in 5 years, if I'm still blogging, the stats and followers and comments won't be so important.  Maybe I'll be totally committed to the "I blog for me" mantra.  For now, though, I'm thankful for every one of you.  I'm thankful for the opportunity to show you my side of, perhaps, make you think of things in a different share with you the things that are important to me.

Thank you...for spending your time here.

Parenting shortcuts...Vol. 5

When I hit "publish" on these shortcut posts, I generally feel the tiniest bit douchy.  After all, you're probably a very intelligent adult who is perfectly capable of surviving this life without my uber-helpful, know-it-all 2 cents.  But, I see it like this.....why should any of us have to re-invent the wheel?  Know what I'm sayin'?  If I've banged my head into a wall long enough to come up with a spiffy shortcut that might save you some time or money or aggravation, why not share it with my oodles handful of adoring patient and tolerant fans friends and family who are humoring me???  Right?

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

We live in a house that's large on character, charm, and cozy details but very short on closet space.  Near the front door, we have a coat closet that's the size of a coffin.  It's just about big enough to hold 3 coats, an umbrella, and 2 pairs of shoes.  I wish I were exaggerating.

So a problem arises when it's winter time and I have to stock this closet with enough hats, gloves, coats, scarves, boots and snow pants to outfit 6 people.  The second problem is accessibility.  I need everything available for my kids to help themselves.  In the morning, I want to be able to say, "Get out your hat, gloves, and coat."  The older boys can completely dress themselves AND help their little sisters whenever necessary.

My solution?  Check it out......

I tried using those plastic $9.99 shoe bags for the door, but my kids aren't exactly "gentle".  Those things were generally destroyed within a few months.  So I sewed my own with some scraps from my fabric stash.  Please don't ask me to give you specific measurements and instructions.  I'm a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of chick.....I make this stuff up as I go along.

Some of the pockets are smaller than others, which makes them perfect for holding a few pairs of tiny gloves.  At the top, there are 2 very large pockets for the adult hats and gloves and miscellaneous.

The bottom pockets are large enough to hold some less-frequently used shoes.  The shoes that get used on a daily basis are kept in a large wicker basket near the front door.  Snowboots are kept in the basement since they take up so much space.  I also keep the snow pants down there on a hanger so they can dry after a rousing romp in the snow.

As for the bulky coats....I built this insert, which takes up about half of the closet.  This isn't exactly the finest piece of furniture ever created (it's unlikely that Norm will be knocking on my door and asking for woodworking pointers), but I'm absolutely thrilled with it's function.  (Again, please don't ask me for the details.  I can't remember what I ate for breakfast yesterday, much less remember the dimensions and materials for a piece I built nearly a year ago.)  Each child has a cubby that they can easily reach, so each child can be responsible for putting their own coat away.  There are 2 spare cubbies....the bottom one holds shoes for Nick and me.  The top one holds baseball gloves or hats or my coat.  I put hooks on the side of the unit to hold backpacks and umbrellas.  There is enough room left in the closet for the grownup coats to hang on hangers.

Each cubby is labeled.

I don't care if the coats are crammed in and unfolded.  I especially don't care when it's 8:15am and OMG DO YOU HAVE LEAD IN YOUR UNDERWEAR?!  GET YOUR FRIGGIN' COAT ON ALREADY SO WE CAN LEAVE!

PS.......I found another problem that occurred every morning.  When I said, "Everyone get your stuff out and get ready to go!", there was a 15 minute traffic jam at the closet which normally ended with a fistfight, a black eye, and crying. 

So now I assign tasks.  "Nicholas, please get out the coats.  Alexa, please line up all the shoes.  Ben, when Nicholas is done, please get the gloves.  Rachel, after Ben is done, please get the hats."  Generally, this works pretty well....except when Alexa decides to be the Little Mommy and do everyone's job FOR THEM. 

That's when things get ugly.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Story of The Liver (Alternate title: How I Battled My Gag Reflex and Won....Barely)

On September 19th, after two dog-free years, we added a sweet little 8 pound puppy to our family.  He grabbed our hearts immediately with his floppy ears and howling bark and big brown eyes.  He was 4 1/2 months old at the time and his name was Elvis.  After countless discussions (he was briefly named Fredo), we changed the name to Charlie.

I keep calling him Charlie Tuna.

Rachel calls him Charlie Tuna Casserole.

He is starting to have an identity crisis.  He might need therapy.

His transition was pretty smooth, other than the kennel cough that showed up during his first week at home.  After 2 weeks on antibiotics, he's happy and healthy again.

Our previous dog, Page, loved Daddy the most.  This little guy is a total Momma's boy.  Not that I'm complaining.  His presence is comforting....I love to hear the clink-clink of his ID tags as he follows me around the house.  He has a belly that begs to be scratched and his ears are so big that they nearly cover his eyes when he looks down at the floor.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Pagie died two years ago with a heart full of love but a tummy full of cancerous tumors.  Was there anything we could have done to prevent that?  Probably not.  Does that keep me from second-guessing every minute we spent with her?  No.  We were first-time dog owners and I'm sure we made more than a handful of mistakes.  Early in the morning, while Charlie and I walk the neighborhood, I find myself thinking of Page and silently promising to do better this time.

The thing is, I'm a little nutty and neurotic.  (STOP LAUGHING.)  Okay...I'm a LOT nutty and neurotic.  I have this undeniable urge to protect Charlie and do everything I can to keep him healthy and safe.

So I've decided to make my own dog food.

I'll give you a moment to compose yourself......

Seriously?  Holding your gut and falling to the floor?  Don'tcha think you're being a little dramatic?

I'll spare you the exhaustive details of my research.  Suffice to say that dog food consists of all the sh*t that's not fit for human consumption.  Plus lots of inexpensive fillers that have no nutritional value.  I know...I know....plenty of dogs eat commercial dog food and live to be happy, healthy, faithful, grey-haired companions.  I'm not saying that you're a terrible person if you use commercial food.  I'm not saying that you love your pet any less.  I'm not saying that I'm somehow better than you.  I'm just saying that we wanted to take a different road this time.  We knew that some of Charlie's diet would consist of dry food.  So, Nick and I did lots and lots (and lots and lots) of internet research to come up with a brand that was consistently top-rated and repeatedly recommended.  And the list of ingredients includes lots of things that are actual food!  Yay for food!  Yay for being able to pronounce and understand the ingredient list!  Yay for not feeding my dog cow brains!

Here's the problem.  It ain't cheap.  He's a little pup and he doesn't eat a LOT, but I thought, "Hmm.  I think I can cut costs AND give him some top quality grub all at once!"  So he'll be getting half homemade food and half dry food.  We're keeping the dry food simply because it contains some of the vitamins and minerals that dogs need and godhelpme I don't want to give him some kind of weird vitamin deficiency.

So here's where the story of The Liver comes in.  (I give you mad props if you've stayed with me this long.)

The very first batch of food was simmered for several hours in my hand-dandy crock pot.  It consisted of liver, chicken, carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, apples, rice, and onions (for flavor).  (Ya'll never be able to continue reading if you don't stop laughing.)

I have 2 points to make here.  Liver might be the nastiest thing I've ever brought into this house.  (I know I'm stepping on some toes here cuz I have several family members who think liver-and-onions is a delicacy  straight from heaven.  I happen to think it's a nightmare straight from somewhere else.  I digress.)  First, I put on rubber gloves because I was completely unhinged by the amount of BLOOD that was in the packaging.  I opened the plastic, slid the whole mess into the crock pot, and leaned over (I swear to you that I don't know what came over me) to take a whiff.




Liver will never again enter my home.


My second point?  ONIONS ARE TOXIC FOR DOGS.  Yep.  It contains something that causes their red blood cells to BURST which leads to anemia which can lead to DEATH.  I could just as easily have laced the whole mess with rat poison.  In my 3 weeks of research, WHY DIDN'T I SEE THAT BEFORE NOW?  So I lived with 10 hours of a rancid-smelling house for nothing. 

The bad news?  The entire batch of food went into the garbage.  The good news?  I was only out $15 (roughly).  The other bad news?  I'll be the butt of endless jokes that probably all start with, "HEY!  Remember the time Chris almost poisoned Charlie?  BAHAHAHA!"

So yesterday I made my second batch of food.  I stuck with the basics this time.  Chicken (which, thankfully, doesn't smell like 4-day-old baked on a highway in Death Valley roadkill), carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, apples, and rice.

When The Husband came home from work, I said, "I finished the second batch of dog food."


"I left out the poisonous onions this time."


"I also left out the liver."