Friday, May 9, 2014

The Plant Sale

During a typical after-school, playground conversation, a friend asked about my neighbors and whether we were happy with them.  Since we have 4 kids and 2 dogs, there's a fair amount of chaos surrounding our any neighbor who can put up with all of this and NOT call the cops is A-OK in my book.  Which is why we frequently shovel/snowblow their driveways/sidewalks and bribe them with homemade cookies. 

Anyway......on one side of us, we have an older, single man who lives alone in his house.  His name is Joe.  We have absolutely no proof of this, but my husband and I believe he may have a very slight mental disability.  Perhaps on the autistic spectrum?  Again....we have no proof of this besides a deep gut instinct.  He isn't very chatty and holding a conversation with him can be quite difficult.  Nick and I have learned how to communicate with him.  To a child, like my 8 year old daughter, it seems that he may be rude or mean.

So during the conversation with my friend, Alexa happened to be listening at my side.  She suddenly looked up and said, matter-of-factly, "Joe is kinda mean."

This caught me by surprise.  I don't want her to think of him in that way.  "He isn't mean.  He just has a difficult time talking to people and he doesn't leave his house very much."

She shrugged.


Fast forward to yesterday.

The school held their annual plant sale for Mother's Day.  The girls were so excited.  I gave them each an envelope with $10. 

After school, they each came out of the school with big smiles and plastic bags holding their precious purchases.  Rachel's bag held two.....Alexa's bag also held 2, though they were slightly smaller.

Alexa:  "Mommy.  I used some of my money to buy a plant for Mrs. C."  (Her teacher)

Me:  "Oh honey.  That's so sweet of you.  I bet she loved it!"

Rachel:  "Mommy.  I got 2 plants and I have one dollar left."

Me:  "Ok.  That's fine!  I can't wait to plant all of these!"

Alexa:  Looking at me if I might be upset by what she was going to say.  "I don't have any money left.  I used it to buy one for my teacher."

Me:  Fighting to speak around the lump in my throat.  "Oh that's okay.  What you did was so kind and thoughtful and I don't mind.  That's why I gave you the spend on flowers."

Where did this child come from?  How did she grow such a big heart?  Is it possible for a mom to burst with pride?


Fast forward a tiny bit more.

Walking home from school with the prized plants in our hands.  Alexa looked up at me and said, "Mommy?  I want to give one of the plants to Joe."  She squinted up at me.  "Is that okay?"

"Of course it is.  That would be really nice of you.  I think he would love it."

Lump in my throat gets bigger.

She hustled into the house and wrote a note.  It said, simply, "To: Joe.....From: Alexa."  She put the note and the little flower pot on his front stoop. 

"I left the plant on Joe's steps, Mommy."

"Okay, baby.  Thank you.  I bet he'll love it."

That's my girl.  My selfless, big-hearted, gentle little girl.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Lesson Learned

Every now and then, when I have a couple minutes to kill at the checkout line (because the woman in front of me has 83 coupons and she's arguing over the 35 cent gem that expired yesterday), I peruse the variety of magazines on display.  I do this because it will get me into less trouble than ramming her ankles with my cart and yelling, "FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY I'LL GIVE YOU THE 35 CENTS IF YOU'LL GO AWAY!"

Anyway, it must be a rule of thumb in the magazine publishing business that every issue MUST include an article on "How to Improve Your Marriage" or "Tips on Having a Long Marriage" or "The Secrets to Not Strangling Your Spouse in His Sleep" or "This Couple Tells Us How They've Managed to Stay Married for 91 Years!"  Inevitably, it is determined that communication is one of the key factors.

Well DUH.

Here's my tip:  Stop reading stupid articles.  (Unless that "stupid article" includes this one.  In that case, carry on and feel free to sing my praises in the comment section.)

Every marriage is different.  Some people believe that dating (other people) is a great way to preserve a marriage.  Some people believe that never getting married in the first place is the key.  Some people like marriage so much that they do it over and over and over again (Polygamy gives me an owie on the brain.  I can hardly keep track of the deodorant and shaving cream preferences of ONE husband, much less 8 husbands.  That would require charts and lists and stuff and I really suck at those.).  Other people believe in family beds or separate checking accounts or weekly trips to church or never going to bed angry.

I agree that it can be interesting to see what other people do to keep the bond alive....yes, we can even learn from them.  But you can't look at an open-marriage couple and say, "YES!  When we get married, we'll continue to date other people and THAT will guarantee us a long life together!"  It doesn't quite work that way.  When I was a newlywed, I thought that we were supposed to be romantic and that romance = flowers or expensive dinners or an occasional piece of jewelry.  Luckily (for our bank account), it didn't take long for Ye Olde Common Sense to pay me a visit.

Common Sense said, "Dude.  Is your last name Trump or Rockefeller?  I can't remember."

Me said, "Um.  Neither one, actually.  Why do you ask?"

Common Sense said, "Well, if you'd like flowers, dinners, and jewelry on a regular basis, then you'd best get yourself married to a Trump or a Rockefeller."

Me said, "But wait!  I'm already married!"

Common Sense said, "Sucks to be you."

Me said, "No it doesn't!  He's a great guy!"

Common Sense said, "Well then you'd better figure out how to be happy without flowers, dinners,
and jewelry."

Me said, "Seriously?"

Common Sense said, "Seriously.  And, FYI, those things don't really prove anything.  They're just stuff.  Do you hear me?  They are JUST STUFF."

Hm.  Ye Olde Common Sense had a good point.....(which annoyed me to no end because I really LIKE being the one who is right.)  And slowly, my priorities did my definition of romance.

Romance is.......When The Husband takes all 4 kids to a hockey game so that I can accept a last minute invitation to a Mets game.  When he stops at 7-11 and buys me a pint of my favorite ice cream.  When he clears off the passenger seat of the van and adjusts it to a comfy position for me.  When we have bacon with our breakfast and he hands me the crispiest pieces because he knows I like those best.  When he can see, just by the look on my face, that I'm getting a migraine....and then begins ticking through the list of remedies to see which ones I've tried.  Romance is a husband who is kind, funny, hard-working, and a good father. 

We are coming up on 18 years of marriage in June.  I'm so proud of proud of him, me, and the knowledge that WE are the secret to those 18 years.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Mice: Evicted

I'm looking over some of my old posts....including the drafts that I never published.  Here's one from about 3 years ago that I had ALMOST finished:  Enjoy.

We have a mouse.

I was working on my computer at the dining room table last night.  Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw something move in the kitchen.  Paranoia has been my middle name since we had a small mouse problem about 7 years ago....but, in an effort to rid myself of such neurosis, I didn't get up to investigate.  It's nothing.  Stop being ridiculous.  Your eyes are playing tricks on you again.

About 10 minutes later, I heard The Husband heave a sigh and looked up to see him get up off the couch.  "What's the matter?"  He ignored me and walked quietly toward the kitchen.  "What?"  He continued to ignore me while staring intently at the floor.  "WHAT IS IT?"

"We have a mouse."

"I KNEW IT!  I thought I saw something but I ignored it cuz I thought I was CRAZY!"  I pulled my feet up off the floor and tucked them under me.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Am I surprised that we have a mouse?  No.  Spend a day at my house and you won't be shocked, either.  First and foremost, we live in a house built in the 1940s.  "Airtight" wasn't even a word in the dictionary back then.

Secondly (is that a word?  I'm not even sure.), I have kids.  And now that the weather is warming up, I force  encourage them to be outside as much as possible.  For various reasons, the door gets opened roughly 358 times a day.  Per kid. 

I'm hungry.
Can we come in?
I'm thirsty.
Can we come in?
I'm cold.
Can we come in?
I'm hot.
Can we come in?
Can we come in?

Thirdly (now I'm pretty sure that's NOT a word), while our front door is fairly new, our back door has been around since the days of the caveman.  It does not shut completely.

And finally, we have a guinea pig.  Doesn't that mean her presence acts as a sort of magnet for other rodent life-forms?  I thought I'd heard that at some point.

So break out the glue traps and peanut butter!  Don't get all "every life is precious and you can't kill an innocent mouse" on me.  I have no mercy for uninvited rodents.  Yes, I'm a cold-blooded killer.

The main problem with this whole deal is that I feel so gross about it!  Yes, I know that lots of people have mice problems.  I know that it's not always a cleanliness issue.  I know that my house is clean.

And yet.....I find myself scrutinizing every nook and cranny.  And vacuuming repeatedly.  And scrubbing again and again and again.


Fast forward to the current day:  This past summer, we did some renovating in the kitchen and garage.  A couple days ago, I said to Nick, "Did you realize we had NO MICE this winter?!  Cuz we kicked some rodent ASS!  WOOHOO!"

Our guinea pig passed away over the summer, too.  I doubt she was to blame for the infestation.  (YEAH.  I know "infestation" might be an exaggeration.  WHATEVS.  Mice are gross and I will totally overreact if I want to.)   Anyway.  Fiona is no longer with us. rodent on residence to act as bait AND we inadvertently plugged up whatever hole was acting as a mousie front door.


Mama Cas 


Here I am again.....trying to renew my blogging interest.  I was on a great run for a bit....and then my brain ran out of ideas.  Or I ran out of time.  Something like that.  I miss writing.  (I also miss my quilting.  But I really REALLY can't find time for THAT.)  Perhaps if I get my butt off Facebook now and then......

Anyway.  The Husband got me a new laptop yesterday as an early Mother's Day gift.  He figured it's cheaper to buy the new computer NOW than to wait awhile and also buy a new window because I threw the old laptop through it.  I mean, seriously.....the thing was slower than frozen mud. 

Not much has changed since I last wrote.  We still have 4 kids and 2 dogs.  We still live in the same house.  I'm still battling a wretched Mountain Dew addiction.  I still can't figure out how to keep up with the laundry and dishes.  The Husband is still the best guy I know.  You get the idea.

I still write the same random bursts and sentences.  Occasionally forgetting the grammar rules that were drilled into me long ago. 

So maybe...maybe...maybe I'll give this another shot.  Maybe there are still a handful of people who will humor me and read this.  Sometimes it's drivel....sometimes it's sappy....sometimes it's crass and juvenile.....never will it be award winning.  Maybe we'll call this MamaCas Chapter 2?