Thursday, April 30, 2009

Poem-a-day Challenge!

I just finished!

For the last thirty days, I've written a poem per day on the Poetic Asides blog by Robert Lee Brewer - I was one of around 850 people that posted daily poems based on the author's prompts.

I am not a poet, by any means, but it was such a totally cool experience and definitely helped me to push the creative envelope. What a total thrill to participate, but more so to be able to read all the amazing work written by serious poets! I don't have sights set on a career in poetry, but I look forward to doing it again next year. (April is National Poetry Month.)


I have this theory that an unmade bed leads the whole day awry. Yes, I am one of those nutty people that can’t stand to see my bed a mess and if by some strange occurrence I don’t get it made all day, I will do it at bedtime before climbing in. There is nothing like the reward of crisp sheets, fluffy pillows and a squishy comforter after a long mommy-day. I have a serious love for my bed. And I love it even more when it’s made.

But, occasionally, time gets the best of me and it waits, a rumpled pile of sheets and blankets, until I find a tiny nook of time in which to get it done. Yesterday, that didn’t happen until late, at which point the calamity of my day made perfect sense. “Oh, the bed wasn’t made!” I thought. “That explains it!”

The details of yesterday’s domestic dysfunction are now vague; several tantrums occurred – the drama du jour for two of my children these days – a pant-less trip to Riley’s gymnastics for Finn, and complete destruction of our stairway carpeting by Logan and a tube of the most ridiculous fuchsia lipstick I have ever seen. Stanley Steamer is coming tomorrow.

I swear the money hemorrhage never ends.

And today is another day. Another wet, soggy, gray, thunderous day. But our bed is made and this mama is ready to face it head on.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What is wrong with people?

I am sitting in traffic in the city, well, south of the city, just leaving an appointment at the University of Chicago. All of a sudden this older gentlemen quickly approaches my window and knocks on it loudly. He delivers the following monologue, angrily screaming:

“I could not tell if you were black or white, but I came anyway. I ran out of gas and this %^&#$ joker won’t hold my license while I get some money. I work for Ford Motor Company and my name is #(*&#*&. Come with me now and buy me some gas. I can take your name and address and mail the money back to you if you want.”

First, I HATE any reference to racial prejudice, so he lost me instantly with his opening remark. Second, he was angry and yelling at me. Third, I was totally taken off guard and honestly, kind of scared. And finally, I would never consider handing over my name and address to some random angry guy in the city. I would likely help someone out who was in need if I had the cash. But this debit card queen didn’t and anyway, he really had no shot. Didn’t anyone ever teach this dude that you catch more flies with honey?

I said, “I’m sorry, I don’t have cash right now and I can’t come with you – I have to get home to my kids.”

Then he f-bombed me.

All this happened while I was talking to Mike on the phone. He was like, “Who’s that? What’s going on?”

This guy must be part of the contingency of folks that honk when I’m not off the block fast enough, or who shake their heads at me when my kids fuss in line, or who ride the back of my van when I’m already over the speed limit.

Seriously, what is wrong with people?

Monday, April 27, 2009


I can't believe I almost didn't take Finn's school up on their $10 photo shoot offer. He is so not cooperative right now - I just didn't think it would be worth the talented Miss Keri's time or even my ten measly dollars. But talented Miss Keri is! This morning, I received a CD of about thirty awesome proofs, documenting her sitting with Finn last week. As our camera-shy little man (quite the handsome devil, I must say) turns three years old in just two weeks, I am beyond thrilled to have these amazing images captured. Thanks so much to Miss Keri and all the wonderful women at Finn's Mom's Day Out Program at Bethany of Fox Valley in Aurora. I am so grateful for them and the impeccable care they take of Finn. I think he's had a crush on each one of them this year - his favorite just keeps rotating!
Without further ado, here's Finn on the cusp of "three"....

Friday, April 24, 2009

whoa is me

Funny how life works. My sparkling new cleaning service has been replaced with an equally sparkling, slightly used and nowhere near as exciting Honda Odyssey. Our other van died unexpectedly yesterday, leaving me with no other choice as a car payment came on board. I think I am in a grieving process. Glad to have the safe wheels, but oh how I wanted those wonderful women in my life. I certainly hope I don't have to wait the life of the loan to see them again! Guess that's the way the cookie crumbles....

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

God Bless the Cleaning Service

Just a quick note about my recent financially irresponsible de-stressor: a cleaning service. Is there anything better than this? I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I have been able to enjoy my home in a totally clean state, when I didn’t just do it myself for a party. Seriously, people live with the front of their stairs vacuumed?? I have to say, it is surely a luxury in life and although we have no business doing it, we are. For me. For now. When my health-related load lightens, I may reconsider. Or maybe I’ll fight like hell for more writing gigs to justify it. (That sounds more like it.) But for now, God bless the cleaning service. I am in love with these women!

Sunday, April 19, 2009


It’s true that all good things must come to an end. This weekend, we said goodbye a symbol of a time in life that has surely passed us by. I was not surprised at how sad I was to see Mike’s Mustang go on Friday afternoon. I am sure that I have no idea how upset Mike really is about it. Right now, his little white convertible is making its way across the country to be put on a ship and will find its new home across the ocean. It will arrive somewhere in the Czech Republic of all places; a far cry from Oswego. And it’s a good thing. Mike did not need to pass it in the neighborhood on the way to soccer practice in his seatbelt-equipped vehicle of necessity.

We actually sold the car back in early February, but the purchaser was not able to arrange transportation until now. So we waited and grimaced as the weather grew warmer and more convertible-worthy. Of course we said farewell on the first perfect top-down day of 2009. So it goes.

We made sure we savored our last moments with Mike’s baby and loaded up the kids for a joyride around the hood. This was the first and last time we’d all been in it together and the kids were crazy excited. There is nothing like the rush of adrenaline and freedom felt in a convertible classic car, sans seatbelts, music blaring. We hit the road for a hell of a ride.
In those moments I looked around and saw fifteen plus years had gone by in a flash. There is more gray on the head of the man next to me, and I now call him a man instead of a guy. (His muscles are the same size though.) In the back are three people that didn’t even exist when I first rode in this gem, first was allowed to drive this beautiful vehicle or wash it - one towel for “big water”, another for the rest. (I remember once being afraid to tell Mike I had used fabric softener on the drying rags for fear it might affect the Mustang’s paint!) We brought our first Christmas tree home with the top down, furnished our first home with garage sale finds toted home in the Mustang and rode along Florida coastline not nearly enough times in this car. I am sad to see it go.

And as we left it on a car trailer in the Wal-Mart parking lot, Mike just said, “Let’s go, let’s go!” He couldn’t stand to look. But I had to. I cried as I watched it sit among Infinities and Volvos, all going across the sea and wondered what adventures might be ahead for Mike’s Mustang and what might lie ahead for us, too. What a ride it's been already.

Easter 2009

Some pictures from Easter 2009.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

So you live in, like Iowa, right?

We may be way out in the country.... but there are perks.

This Dog's Life ain't so bad!

Blame Game

We have gone through four reusable water bottles for Logan this year at school. I don’t understand this. I buy them, but somehow she eventually brings each of them home and tells me that her teacher won’t let her use them because they leak or spill. This is frustrating because I’ve now spent about $40 on water bottles that I would have much rather spent on the possibility of a cleaning service. When Logan came home with her last, most expensive, stainless steel bottle in a plastic bag on Monday, I think I literally growled.

What was even better for this overworked, underappreciated, slightly in a life funk mom, was what she said next.

“My teacher says you don’t know how to screw the top on right,” said Logan.

“What?” I marveled at the betrayal of this other woman also in charge a gaggle of crazy kids throwing me to the wolves. “I assure you I know how to screw on a top!”

“Well, that’s what she says,” snapped Logan.

After wasting a solid five morning minutes “practicing” my bottle screwing ability, I assure you that I cannot make this bottle leak-free. So Logan left with my MacGuyver-ed version: her bottle with a wound up paper towel around the neck secured with a thick rubber band. (Which, of course, she finds utterly embarrassing.)

As she bounced out the door, I grumbled to myself about being sabotaged by this woman whose pencils I sharpen on a regular basis and who has never been anything but great.

Guess we all need someone to blame once in awhile!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


I was profoundly affected by Oprah’s show yesterday. It is very rare that I even watch it in daylight hours, much less within two weeks of the original air date. Another round of my good friend prednisone has left me feeling no motivation and the inability to make a decision. As I stood in the kitchen at dinner time pondering what to create out of linguine and cheese crackers, I could only think, “I don’t even like to cook anymore!” This is a big deal for me. I love to cook. I need to cook. I get something more than a meal out of it – so this revelation stopped me in my tracks. Instead of making dinner, I walked to the couch, called up my DVR list of unwatched Oprah’s and found “Secrets of Overstressed Moms” at the top of the list.

The honesty and humor of this program really spoke to me and I was so grateful for it. I constantly wonder what is wrong with me when I can’t remember simple things or get it all done or do everything perfectly while EVERYONE around me so obviously can! Like an imposter, I’m so tired of feeling relieved that I made it through again at the end of every day. Lo and behold, most moms out there feel the same way. (Why they always look more put together than me, I’ll never know.) Sure, I’ve thought others like me might exist, but I needed evidence and Oprah provided it.

I think my favorite moms on the show were the one that pretended to be a little bit crazy in order to obtain obedience from her kids, the one that owned up to using a diaper for herself in the car in order to preserve the sweet sleep of both her children on a road trip and lastly the mom who said that no one told her that she’d hate her husband after having kids or – sorry – that a boner in the back would constitute foreplay!

I’m pretty sure that I’m having "mid-life crisis-light." My personal baby boom is over and the economy is slowing down the advancement of my writing career. There are health concerns. I can’t tell you the last time I washed the bathtubs. I opt for convenience over saving money OFTEN. As a watch others have babies or work, I wonder who I am and what I am supposed to be doing. I wonder if I will ever know, exactly, but feel this underlying certainty that there is surely more in store. I know that it does involve some reinvention – I always thought I was good at that – I just feel, well, stagnant and tired right now.

Every silly GI doctor I see as well as some well-meaning friends and family, urge me to try to remove the stress from my life. I find this comical. In an attempt to prove that it could not be done, I made a realistic list of all the things that add stress to my life. Let me first say that I don’t walk around crazy-stressed, I really just walk about crazy-crabby. (Not the ideal persona I want etched in my kids’ minds for eternity!) I’ll tell you that I’m right about many things on that list; they can’t be changed. But some can, with money it seems. Not knowing where it will come from, I’ve decided to knock them off anyway and hope the funds shows up. I’m getting my house cleaned – BOOM – one thing off the list.

I’ve never done this before, but I'm asking for your comments. I want to know if there are some of you out there just like me who, although keeping up appearances, are struggling a bit. Are you done having kids? Does that even matter? Do you sometimes feel like you don't “fit” with other mom’s you encounter? Do you find yourself dreaming about what’s next? Was this your experience when your kids were younger? I’m on a mission to figure it out and would love your help. Maybe I’ll write an article about it all; maybe it will just piece things together a bit – either way, I look forward to hearing your thoughts and I hope you’re not turned off by my honesty.

One final note: it surely goes without saying that my kids are my life and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Also, I am far from hating my husband; he’s the best there is. I don’t want a new gig - I just want to reclaim myself a little bit in this one.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Stingy Subway Man

I had the strangest experience today. Riley, Finn and I were at the food court eating Subway and Finn spilled his chocolate milk everywhere: all over the food, table, floor and himself. After looking all over for a dispenser, I went back to the gentleman at Subway and asked for some napkins. He handed me two.

I said, “My son spilled his chocolate milk, may I have a few more?”

“No,” he replied. “Change tables.”

“Change tables?” I was confused at first.

He nodded.

Whatever! I could not believe his ignorance! I was supposed to move two kids, their sandwiches (drenched in chocolate milk), their drinks and yogurts, plus my veggie sub and drink, our bags and coats to another location, irresponsibly leaving a HUGE mess EVERYWHERE so that he didn’t have to share a rag or splurge on a few extra napkins.

I must have looked confused when I turned around and went back to attempt the mess with my two, super thin and anti-absorbent Subway napkins, because a nearby woman came over with a stack to offer. It was so nice. For the next five minutes or so I cleaned up the milk with a steady stream of passersby dropping off their unused papers. Riley and Finn kept saying how nice they all were and I went from uber frustration to super satisfied by the kindness of strangers in a few short minutes.

It was a great time to have a “pay it forward” discussion with the kids to whom I had doled out all the banana peppers and black olives on my sammy – something I would not normally have been too thrilled about.

“It’s funny, when people do nice things for you, it just makes you want to do something nice for someone else doesn’t it? I asked. They both agreed.

On her way out, the first nice woman who had donated her napkins stopped over. She looked like she must be a grandmother and had obviously been in my kid-saturated situation a time or two before. “You know,” she said, “When you were down on the floor trying to wipe that up, that guy was watching you. He saw all of us helping you and started to try and wave you down and offer you more.”

Hopefully next time stingy Subway man will just hand them over to begin with.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

My 4 Kids

For those of you who saw this on Facebook, I apologize for the duplication. This shot was just too good and I had to have it on the blog as well.

My mom coined the perfect caption:

"Grumpy, Smiley, Sleepy and Puppy"