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Showing posts from 2010

It's Official... "Facebook" is Now an Action Verb

According to Time Life Magazine, Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, is now the man of the year.  While he gave us a magic platform to reach back into our past and locate friends and lovers not seen in thirty years, he also gave busy moms a reason not to feel guilty when we forget our cameras at our children's many, many events, awards ceremonies and such.  We look at the good mom with camera cables, charged batteries and perfectly posed children and can now utter the self redeeming words, "Facebook it."  Within hours, photos of our children come flying in from organized mothers we barely know, but are grateful for.  The word "Facebook" has become an action verb... a task to be performed shortly after the last click of the camera shutter.  "Facebook those pictures to me."  You hear it everywhere.  At a ballgame, when the kids just won the All Star World Series, and you stand there with a pom-pom in hand and no camera, all you need to say is..."H

The After Christmas Effect

I would like to introduce Turtle.  He is nameless. He floats around in a tank of hazy water with a facial expression that epitomizes the exhaustion and inability to continue that comes with preparations for the holiday season.   I plan to have postage stamps made with this look and attach them to all of my credit card payments as I slowly begin the process of paying for Christmas.    I know this look and have seen it in my own reflection.  As we grew each day closer to Christmas and all the glory that it is, my eyes lost a bit of twinkle and exhaustion set in as I felt myself sinking to the bottom of this proverbial pond of gift cards, ribbons, bows, increased credit limits, and chocolates from countries I've never heard of.   But, ready or not... Christmas does arrive and it waits for no one.  My Christmas morning begins early because each child wants to wake me in the early morning hours to sneak with them out to the living room to see what treasures Santa has left them. It's

The Model Consumer

I am the model consumer.  A product label promising new and improved qualities to my life is certain to gain my attention.  These products are strategically placed in retail stores to speak in coded tongue to shoppers like me.  Just the other day, I went to the new MegaTron, bigger than the last one, Walmart, built three sites over from the previous two.   All I needed was a loaf of bread.  As any good Southern woman knows, it is almost impossible to leave Wal-Mart without spending a hundred dollars or more. Immediately upon entry, I was drawn to the vitamin aisle with an already lingering notion that perhaps I needed more vitamin D in my life.  I actually needed a cruise to a sunny tropical island, but I temporarily quieted that wish with a bottle of sunlight and a need to shop.  Unfortunately, all the other letters of the alphabet called out to me and soon I could play a quick game of Scrabble with the bottles of Vitamin A, K, D and B in my basket.   I moved to the next aisle and a c

The Secret Order of the Big Haired Beauties

My child learned, at a young age, the power of big hair.  It is something I have always wanted, but have never had the luxury of having.  In the 80's, when big hair defined who you were, I was cursed with short wispy blonde locks.   This tiny beauty, however, must have inherited a big hair gene that I never knew was lying dormant inside of me.  I'm guilty of big hair envy and a feeling of sadness still wells up inside of me as I pass down the hair care aisle and see all of the hair freezing and big sexy hair products used to create these heavenly coifs.  My daughter enjoys her gift of big hair and spends many an hour in front of the mirror working it into styles that would make Miss America and fairy tale princesses proud.   I've discovered, while looking in from the outside of the big hair world, that there is a sisterly bond, an unspoken covenant, between those who are lucky enough to have big hair.  This bond transcends language barriers, shorelines, and age difference

The Darkside of Social Media

One simple desire to build a word with seven little random tiles in an on-line game called Scrabble has led me down a path of destruction where I woke this morning to find my identity has been erased.   You would think that sitting on your sofa with your children while they do homework would be a fairly harmless event.   While piddling around on the computer, my son told me about an online game site where I can play Scrabble with strangers.  Sounds fun, I thought!  As I began to register to play, I discovered a button that says I can connect with my Facebook account.  How easy… How thoughtful of them to give me this option.   Oddly when I did this, I was instantly in my account with the screen name  “Darkside 902”.  Honestly, that should have been my first red flag.  But no… I wandered down this road oblivious to the violations I was incurring.  Curious about this seemingly dark identity, I asked my children how this came to be.   My daughter informed me that the screen name was just r

Salutations and Traffic Circles

I was recently in the grocery store when the cashier greeted me with a friendly smile.  Out of common courtesy, I asked, "How are you today?"  While this is a pretty simple question, it doesn't always come with a simple answer.  Certainly there must be a list of inappropriate answers that everyone should avoid using. When you are stacking your overly priced organically grown produce onto the conveyor belt, an inappropriate response from your cashier is... "Well.... I'm better now that the rash is going away.  I was doing good just scratching my lower body until it spread everywhere.  My infectious disease doctor told me it could take a few months to go away completely. "   A rush of heat instantly overcame me and and it took all my might to keep from screaming, "Drop those carrots and put on some gloves!"   This was not the answer I was looking for, nor did I want.   My daughter is a complete germaphobe and the apple doesn't fall far from the t

The Power of the Pyramid and Other Pointy Structures

Personal space comes in many sizes.  My family genetics tends to point towards a much larger personal space than most.  Creating, crafting and controlling our own little space is an involuntary function almost as important as breathing.   My daughter has understood this powerful inner driver ever since she was a very young child.  I know this to be true as I sit her looking at the teepee she has erected in my living room that she has transformed into her personal office.  Now, not many people have a teepee in their living room.  In fact, most people would not allow a teepee or any other large structure to remain for long in their living room if ever erected at all.  However.... each night as we begin homework,  my tiny princess enters the room with a zebra striped, hot pink book bag in one arm and eight foot poles covered in cloth under the other arm.  She quietly goes to work setting up her work space.  She carefully positions the structure so that she can see the television through o

Hope Comes in Many Forms

The story of Randi Hope is one that must be told.  I've referred to Randi several times throughout my writings, but one must know the real story of how Randi Hope came to be.  Most families have a pet or two - normally these are cats or dogs, even fish or birds.  Then there are those that live on the outskirts of civilization that have their own private zoos with exotic creatures that both excite and frighten children all at the same time.  My family is caught somewhere between those two ends of the spectrum.   We are a normal family, in a normal house, with a normal life.  But tucked away inside these facades of normalcy are multiple pairs of little loving eyes hanging upside down from a carefully placed limb, lounging about on the roof or even running full circles on a tiny plastic wheel deep within my daughter's bedroom.   We never set out with any goals to procure these creatures... they simply find us.  If there is an injured animal anywhere around, its internal GPS will

Driven to Madness by the Dollar Menu Board

"Medium Coke, light ice, one napkin."  This is my early morning drive-thru ritual.  I pull up in my comfy car, Van Morrison spills from the window, I recite that short order, pay my $1.10, pull through and am out in 42 seconds.  I have it down to an art form.   It's so easy.    During my twelve seconds in front of the menu board, I glance over at the dollar menu and think, "How nice that you can feed a family of four for $12 or less"..... UNLESS it's my family. Just entering the drive-thru with my car full of family members and friends brings on an anxiety that must resemble what dogs feel like days before a giant earthquake.    I've always considered myself a confident woman who can handle most any situation with common sense and a good up-bringing.  But... a trip through the drive-thru instantly strips me of any skills I have of maintaining order.  I do attempt to take control and keep the madness at bay.  I have good skills.  I use them wisely.  

The Apple of My iPhone

My children truly are the apple of my eye and, in fact, have apples in their own eyes.  It’s just that their apples are attached to laptops, ipods, and cell phones.  I’m certain that it is probably a bad decision, but I enjoy giving my children better things than I have.  Who can resist the twinkle in their eyes as those apple commercials taunt them with the next Steve Jobs creation.  When it comes to technological gadgets, I am at the bottom of the pile with my antiquated hardware.  Months before I am due an upgrade on my cell phone and modern technology is within my reach, my children have hacked my account, reviewed and compared all five users to see who has the nearest upgrade on the horizon and have pre-selected the phones of their choice.  My little flip phone has served me well, but when you can no longer dial the number “8” it is a clear sign from the AT&T demigods that it is time for an upgrade.  While I tape my screen together and have lost all friends with eights in thei

A Tall Drink and A Short Straw

As a good parent, I have talked to my children about drugs and alcohol and the dangers of using and associated addictions.  Where I failed was when I forgot to discuss the many other addictions that will flash before them with false enticement and a siren song.  I hang my head in shame when I have to admit that we have all become terribly addicted to late night Frappes.  Yes,  McDonald's is our dealer and we find ourselves circling the parking lot like excited crackheads trying to decide if we want mocha or caramel.   There is a prerecorded voice that greets you as you enter the drive-thru.  I'm certain it must be the devil, but it calls our names and fills us with joy.  In high pitched excited tones, like a girl going through Greek Rush, she says, "Hi, Would you like to try one of our delicious ice cold mocha frappes?"  "OF COURSE WE DO",  I want to scream.  You would think they would recognize my car by now and just start whipping up frappes as I enter the

Laundering Money

Dirty laundry is my nemesis.  It is my greatest challenge and biggest foe.  It is the one thing in my life I cannot get my hands around - it’s just too big. Just as I think the last sock is washed and the bath towels are folded and put away,  five kids in wet bathing suits and wet towels will fly through the back door leaving a pile of laundry on the floor.  After fifteen years, I have accepted the fact that the laundry is bigger than I and it is truly a mountain I will never conquer.  There are no support groups for those who need a laundry intervention, so I decided to tackle this problem using the tools at hand... namely, child one and child two.  I announced to my kids that they were responsible for doing their own laundry.  This was said with great authority and self-pride that I had taken charge.  Nothing happened. No laundry was done. The kids were quite content mining for clothes at the back of their closet and had no need to wash their dirty clothes as long as there remained a

It Always Helps to Own the Stolen Vehicle You are Being Arrested for Driving

It is one thing to have your vehicle stolen from your own driveway while you sleep. It is another to be pulled over months later driving that same stolen vehicle with your kids in tow.  We had owned a popular version of a Chevy Silverado that had a spectacular paint job that sparkled in the sun.  The first time it was stolen from us out of a local parking lot should have been a signal to us not to purchase the exact same vehicle. When it never returned and was probably being sold off for parts, we did exactly what we shouldn't have done and bought the same style truck again.... same paint job... same shine.... same invisible sign that screamed "Come Steal Me."  Several years later, as the paint began to fade and the shine wasn't quite so obvious, it sat tucked safely in our carport full of all things a hunter would love.... guns, bright orange vests, Columbia jackets and more.  My husband rose early the next morning to take to the woods and join the masses in the firs

Early Morning Visits from God, The Utility Guy and the Crying Eyed Cat

Since the time that I was pregnant with my first child I have struggled with insomnia.  I wake abruptly and all throughout the night with sudden realizations that I forgot to put Downy in the rinse cycle or failed to mail the water payment in a timely manner.    I never wake from the thoughts that should wake someone, such as..."The iron is on and the curtains are beginning to smolder."  The thoughts that throw me awake are subtle whispers that I failed to accomplish everything on my "Mom" To Do List.    A pattern began to emerge over the years and most nights I wake at exactly 3:33 a.m.  Instead of finding this odd, I find comfort in the fact that I am keeping to a schedule.  While I am acutely aware of numeric patterns, this has never stood out to me as strange.  When I was eight months pregnant,  I would wake from a foot lodged in my bladder and joke that it must be 3:33 a.m.  It always was. It was playtime for the baby.  My son has had the same crazy sleep habit

Cutting Your Own Hair is Never a Good Decision

Most people learn by the age of four that it is not a wise choice to cut your own hair.  It took me forty five years to learn this valuable lesson.  I am cursed with fine, straight hair and I have spent a lifetime paying good money to have tiny snippets of hair cut off in a simple straight line.  I’ve watched this precision cutting take place multiple times.  How hard could it be?  My barber is a magician and makes it look so easy to do.   After three failed attempts to get an appointment for a trim and one particularly hot summer day that left those straight locks of hair plastered to my face and neck, I got this brilliant idea that I could perform this same simple cut on my own hair.   Let me preface this by saying that I now know why beauticians pay hundreds of dollars for high quality sharp scissors.  One should not attempt this act at home with the same scissors that are used for opening freezer pops or cutting cardboard boxes open.  Being somewhat intelligent, I knew that I coul

Thou Shalt Not Google Thine Own Self

I have this secret passion for tiny six ounce cans of grape juice.  They are expensive, so I hide them away in the 'fridge like precious treasure.  Last night my daughter was serving them up to her friends explaining how she enjoyed this product at Communion.  She told them how "Back in the day, Jesus and his friends loved Welch's Grape Juice."   She went on to explain how once a month they all got together for a big supper and that they served bread and blood and grape juice. Before I had a chance to jump in and explain the representational association of grape juice and Christ's blood, the conversation immediately flowed to the Volvo Driving Vampires of Twilight and their thirst for blood and not juice products.    This is the same child that once explained the Ten Commandments to me and felt it was her duty to point out if I might be approaching the violation of any of them.   My favorite on her list of Godly rules is  "Thou shalt not cover the bare footed

Igloo Coolers and Family Wellness

The Fourth of July is upon us and that means a weekend of wet beach towels, BBQ sauce on every surface within a 20 yard radius of the grill and a sudden self-mastery of back yard pyrotechnics.  For the past twenty years I have spent many an Independence Day camping with the family.    Last year, I officially proclaimed that I am past the age of sleeping in a tent on the side of a lake eating out of a cooler.  Granted, I have done that on many occasions and the memories are wonderful, but there comes a time when you’ve experienced all you can possibly experience.  I learned early on that the success of a Fourth of July camp out is completely dependent on the contents of the cooler.   When I was in my twenties, that red igloo cooler contained beer, water, more beer, chips, salsa, limes and more beer.  Camping was relaxing and loads of fun.  The first camp out with children completely changed my cooler packing skills.  Now we had juice boxes, frozen breast milk, fresh fruit, and an assort

Near to Nothing

My husband is building some kind of large boat in our backyard that has a striking resemblance to Noah's Ark.   At one point in time, it was someone's party barge, but now it has been disassembled, lengthened and a large steel frame has been built on top.   This maiden ship already has a name on her side, "Near to Nothing."  Oddly appropriate, I must say.  I know there is some mathematical formula for buoyancy and I'm not sure that the weight of the steel won't top this thing over and send us all straight into the lake.  It is one thing to have a hobby and work on a project.  It is another to be in the backyard with steel frames, pontoons, a welding torch and pairs of animals watching on in great interest... or possibly fear.  I'm unclear of exactly what the look is that the animals have, but I realize I have a similar expression on my face as I stare at this floating box.  I believe it's the look of uncertainty.  I had the same look when he arrived h

The Luck of the One Legged Cricket

This morning’s activities included hunting for a one legged cricket that has moved in under my couch.  I understand it is supposed to be good luck to find a cricket in your home.  I’m not sure if that is a real belief or one I made up for my kids.  I’m bad about making up traditions and beliefs that will ensure my kid’s happiness and probably land them in therapy one day.  (unless they  have a one legged cricket in their house)  My kids also believe it is good luck to be the one to get the last red Popsicle or wake up and all the numbers on the clock are the same.  At 11:11, your greatest wish can come true.  As I type this, I realize the damage I may be causing my children.    Can you imagine the luck if you woke up with red stained lips, glanced over at the clock and found a one legged cricket sitting on top of it at 11:11 p.m.?    I don’t know that we could stand so much good luck!  But... back to the cricket hunt….  When the last nerve in my brain had endured eight hours of the cri

Confusion in the Shower

Shampoo, Rinse, Repeat -   I realized this morning that the instructions on the back of a bottle of shampoo were not put there by greedy marketing staff, but were written by some working mother who understands how one can stand naked in the shower wondering if they have already shampooed or not.  Our minds race with the needs and wants of our family members and while lathering gently, we are focused on which store might sell a tiny motor needed to build a model of a roller coaster for our son’s science project.  We are absorbed in thought by the new blue vein that has suddenly showed up around our ankle and wonder if it will go away or if it is just another Mom Tat.  Suddenly we stand there with water cascading down us, unsure if we just shampooed or not.  Thankfully - help is there.  On the back of the bottle, we are clearly exonerated from our own preoccupations and inability to remember if we have lathered up yet and are provided with instructions to do it again.  Lather up girl - i

Don't Forget to Pack the Axe Handle

    The kids are out of school now and we are preparing for our Summer Vacation Road trip.  It will be like a scene out of a Chevy Chase movie.  Even though there are only four of us,  when we travel, we take two vehicles.  My husband follows me in his truck happy as a lark for the peace of sailing down the road behind me without a worry in the world.  I can look behind me and see half of our belongings piled high in the back of his truck...   bikes, rafts, kites, coolers, all things beachy.   We’ve traveled together, but he likes to tease the kids, the kids pick on each other, chaos begins and before you know it, someone’s hair is rolled up in the window, tears are flowing  and I have slipped into insanity.  It is cheaper than going to a therapist, so we gladly pay for the extra gas and wear and tear on the car because “it keeps mom sane.”  That last phrase is usually whispered in hushed tones to our neighbors when they ask the kids why... “Why do you take two cars?”        The kid

If I Ran the Circus

As a child, I loved the Dr. Seuss book “If I Ran the Circus.”  Little did I know it was a glimpse into my own future.  As an adult, I have found that I do run the circus.  Too bad, it doesn’t come with the really cool glittery outfits and feathery headdress.  That could be such fun.  I realized as I stood outside this morning fishing a kitten out of the dryer vent that Mr. McGurkis (the circus owner) and I have a lot in common.   My wolf-wanna-be dog trots by with a hot pink high heel flip flop in its mouth.   Who would purchase such, I thought.  I never know what treasure my dog is going to bring home each morning.  Last week she brought home a spine.  That's not something you find just anywhere.    Randi Hope, my confused white tail deer who imprinted on my husband and believes she is a retiree who should fish all day, wanders up quietly and has breakfast on the aglets of my shoes while I am elbow deep into the dryer vent.    I can hear the echo of my daughter crying inside the h

Elusive Sleep and Daylight Challenged Roosters

Summertime allergy season is upon us and I’m certain it is the pollen in the air and not the small family of cats living under my bed that is causing my relentless sneezing and watery eyes.  Antihistamines knock me out for days and leave me walking around in a zombie like state.  My mother, who is 72  years old and has the energy of a young woman, has no time for slow moving people when there are chores to be done.  As I sat at my counter in the same nightshirt I had been wearing for two days, waiting for the weather channel to actually give me the weather and not another blasted storm story, I was enjoying a leisurely breakfast of sinus meds and Frosted Flakes.  My mother was picking up my kitchen and whisked my spoon right out of my mouth as I tried to eat breakfast.  She said it was time to wash the dishes and I was moving too slow.   Sensing my family's frustration with my medicated state,   I changed to non-drowsy medication and that has left me without sleep for days.   It ha

Appliance Envy

Wonders never cease.  I took my kids with me to buy a new washing machine yesterday.  Explain to me how children who can't pick their clothes up off the floor suddenly know the difference in a front loader and the old standard $400 “Drop your clothes in the tub” washer.  Their eyes twinkled as they looked at the colored models of top of the line, high efficiency washers and dryers. They began discussing cubic feet, spin speeds and low suds options like they woke up this morning and all of this was suddenly important to them. They discussed which friend's parents had machines with steam options, L.E.D. lighting, and something called Fan Fresh.  It was apparent that my children were suffering from appliance envy.   I walked them over to a $300, top loading, plain Jane washer just to see their reaction.  They began to wring their hands and beads of sweat formed at their temples like little appliance addicts.  I reminded them that a good river stone and flowing water can produce th