Diapers and Dragons

Friday, May 29, 2009

Things I Learned From...

Making Personal Pita Pizzas With Two Small Boys:

1. It's harder than it sounds.

2. Two-year-olds are more interested in tasting everything that goes on the pitas (and trying to taste the pitas, too) than helping put those things on.

3. Two-year-olds will also place anything they put in their mouths and then decided they didn't really like (such as unbaked and still spicy pepperonis) back on the pizzas for your enjoyment.

4. It's a really good thing that these pizzas get baked at a fairly high heat so that germs are fried.

5. Three-and-a-half-year-olds are proponents of the throw-it-all-on-in-piles school of topping placement.

6. Pizzas are messy.

7. Mothers need about five arms in order to keep track of everything, including Small Boys.

8. I am way more anal retentive about this sort of thing than I realized.

Grace In Small Things #7 (Seriously Overdue)

I haven't done one of these in a very long time, and that's bad. Things have been rough lately, for all sorts of reason (physical, emotional, professional, and personal), and now is the time I should most definitely be looking for these. So here are some events from yesterday:

1. a hug from the person I most needed one from at the time when I most needed it

2. a Signature Hot Chocolate from Starbucks

3. a Raspberry Cheesequake from Dairy Queen

4. a new season of So You Think You Can Dance?

5. the Widget sitting happily at my side while I watch an audition show for So You Think You Can Dance? Season Five, clapping and cheering along with the crowd when someone is awesome


Haiku Friday

GingerB over at Gas-Food-Lodging is starting Haiku Fridays, and since I love haikus (and need to brush up on them--they're harder than you might think!) I figured I'd join from time to time. So here is my series of haikus about the joy that was yesterday's sick day (unpaid, by the way, for the second time this week: I'm so looking forward to the huge chunk that will be missing from my next paycheck):

doctor says we must
all get tested for swine flu
when did we kiss pigs?

noses have been swabbed
we made jokes about boogers
to cover the ick

tests are negative
so we have much rejoicing
the pigs have spared us

doctor says we have
nasty sinus infection
except DramaBoy

it is miracle
small boy who is always sick
is somehow healthy

perhaps he can care
for snot-stricken family
at young age of three?

Note: Mariposa had a valid question--why were we tested? Well, three out of the four of us had symptoms that do match (which is general enough already), and DramaBoy had a touch of sniffles (which turned out to just be run of the mill allergies), and there was a confirmed case of H1N1 at the boy's daycare. Therefore: testing. It is, unfortunately, existent in our area, though not fatally so.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Eight Reasons I Haven't Been Posting And This Is The Post You're Getting

1. Sleeping in on my day off (last Friday)

2. Spending the rest of my day off (1) having lunch with my dear friend M., (2) frantically looking for my missing cell phone that is STILL MISSING, and (3) finally catching up on some bill-paying (I know, I know--not much of a Day Off Activity. What can I say? At least it left me feeling like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders!)

3. Two Small Boys. Enough said.

4. Going to the Detroit Yacht Club (doesn't that make me sound so hoity-toity? ;D) to grill and go out on my father-in-law's sailboat on Memorial Day

5. Two Small Boys AND self getting/being sick with a nasty cold

6. Spending whatever time I WAS on the computer playing World of Warcraft instead of blogging

7. Being completely intimidated when I looked at my Dashboard and realized that everyone else had, in fact, been blogging and I now have three zillion and one blog posts to read

8. Having way too much work to do and catch up on, with only two weeks remaining to complete it all--why hello, Professor Panic, when did you show up?

There you go. Hopefully I'll be back at some point soon.

In the meantime, here are some Deep Questions to ponder (for more, check out Crazy Thoughts):
  • How far east can you go before you're heading west?
  • Why is it that everyone driving faster than you is considered an idiot and everyone driving slower than you is a moron?
  • If a kid refuses to sleep during nap time, are they guilty of resisting a rest?
  • When does it stop being partly cloudy and start being partly sunny?
  • If ghosts can walk through walls and glide down stairs, why don't they fall through the floor?
  • What do you do when you see an endangered animal that is eating an endangered plant?
  • How can something be "new" and "improved"? If it's new, what was it improving on?
  • If, in a baseball game, the batter hits a ball splitting it right down the center with half the ball flying out of the park and the other half being caught, what is the final ruling?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Who Needs A Gym When You Have Kidlets?

So I haven't been exercising much lately. As in, not at all. Which sucks because I was getting nicely in shape for a while there.

It's not the weight itself (as in the number on the scale) that bothers me. It's the flabbiness, the definite sign that I am Letting Myself Go. We're not talking Fat so much as we are Flab. Just to clarify, since I've been putting a cautious toe in the waters of the Great Weight Debate lately. In other words, I want to be fit and healthy, and that's just not happening.

However. This morning as I was lifting my coffee cup (just about the only thing I'm lifting at work these days), I happened to glance at my arm and Holy Hamstrings, I have BICEPS! I wasn't even flexing, and there was a bulge that would have made any fifteen-year-old male proud! Well, if that fifteen-year-old male wasn't a bodybuilder or trying to win the Presidential Fitness Award. Nevertheless. BICEPS. On Me, the girl who once upon a time had to check whether arms were supposed to be convex or concave in that area and was rather disappointed to discover the answer.

So I'm proposing a whole new fitness regime, Muscles for Mothers. Cuz this is the only way I can explain what I discovered this morning, and maybe someone will want to pay me the Big Bucks to share my wisdom with the world. Remember, everything posted here is Mine (check out the very bottom of the web page, people, and don't press your luck) and you can contact me personally for information on how to write out the check. You're welcome.

(Thanks to Bodybuilding.com for the names and descriptions of the original, non-mommy exercises. However, I officially hate the models on that site. Just sayin'.)

(Neck) Lying Face Down Plate Neck Resistance: Lie face down on bed, floor, or other flat surface. Children will automatically appear and climb on your back, most likely en masse if you have more than one child available. Attempt to raise head to respond to children's stream of questions, and also to breathe. Repeat as children bounce on your back and head. If you keep your abs tight, this also works that muscle group and prevents your organs from being pulverized.

(Trapezoids) Snatch Hang High Pull: Snatch child and pull him/her high into the air out of reach of the friendly dog attempting to give him/her kisses. Expect some level of supersonic screaming from the child.

(Shoulders) Arm Circles: Whirl arms in circles in an attempt to attract the attention of oblivious children heading for Extreme Mischief and/or Impending Doom. You may have the added bonus of expanding your lungs with a spate of Yelling, and feel free to add an aerobic aspect by pairing the Arm Circles with a Sprint (most likely in the event of Impending Doom).

(Shoulders) Back Flyers with Bands [a.k.a. Bodies]: Grab fighting children and separate as far apart as possible. Remember to do this with both arms in the same but opposite motion and while keeping your abs tight, or you may hurt your back. Will most likely involve several reps.

(Chest) Barbell Guillotine Bench Press: Wake up in the morning. Firmly grasp small body draped across your chest/neck/face with both hands. Lift and set to the side. Repeat as needed.

(Triceps) Bench Dips: Collapse into armchair and lift aching feet onto footrest. Small child/children will run across room and hurl into your lap. When you find yourself shoved butt-down into the space between chair and footrest, use arms on chair to lift body back up. Child/children will add weight resistance for added workout benefit.

(Biceps) Hammer Curl: Firmly grasp toys/clothing/books/small children scattered about the floor and curl arm upwards. Deposit into nearest receptacle. Repeat. May require pairing with Squats. See Reverse Barbell Preacher Curls for variation after a Very Long Day.

(Wrist/Forearm) Reverse Barbell Preacher Curls: Similar approach as the Hammer Curl, but requires kneeling in prayer for patience. Lift objects/children while you kneel, focusing on your forearms and that you really do love your children even if it doesn't feel like it right now.

(Abs) Ab Crunch: Lie down in bed. Sit up, focusing on using your abs rather than your back, to answer a child's demand for water. Lie down again. Repeat crunch to answer a child's demand for a hug. Lie down. Get up to answer demand for stuffed animal that "fell" on floor. Lie down. Repeat ad nauseum.

(Abs) Barbell Side Bend: Lift small child onto hip. Reach down and to the side to grab and lift toy/food/book/diaper/bag/coat OR grab additional child to prevent Impending Doom. Repeat. At some point that may or may not be halfway through reps, switch child to other hip.

(Abs) Cable Crunch: Kneel and bang head on floor. Most commonly performed after Doom is no longer Impending or small children have driven you Up The Wall (exercise not included due to risk of injury).

(Quads) Barbell Deadlift: Lift child. Put down. Repeat. Keep abs tight and back straight if possible. Ten million reps.

(Quads) Barbell Stepups: (Requires multi-level house or at least porch stairs) Lift child/groceries/laundry basket/huge load of toys that have materialized downstairs. Carry up stairs. Repeat as needed.

Note: This exercise regime focuses on weight-lifting and does not include the many aerobic exercises available to mothers, such as Sprinting At A Dead Run, Chasing Children Round The Bend, Near Miss Heart Attacks, and so on.

Good luck and good exercising!

--Toned and Tough (in her dreams) TeacherMommy

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

He's Going To Hate Me For This In A Few Years

I just have to (over)share something DramaBoy said this morning, because it had me totally cracking up and I had no one there to share the moment with.

So we are going through the daily/hourly/minute-ly trial of getting DramaBoy to Keep His Hands Out Of His Pants. PLEASE tell me this is a normal thing for a three-year-old boy, because if not I'm going to be really Worried. I have this horrified nightmare that he's going to grow up to be the next Al Bundy, and God help me if that happens. I might have to move to Australia.

At any rate, this morning I was applying makeup at the bathroom mirror and DramaBoy was sitting on the floor trying to wake up. Since there's no central air piped up into the Skyhouse, it's fairly warm, so he slept just in his underwear last night. Making the oh so fascinating contents that much more easily accessible. I glanced down at him to find that he had tucked the waistband of his underwear UNDER said contents and was playing with You Know What. Not wanting to trigger a tantrum at oh-my-aches-and-purple-eyebags-why-on-earth-did-I-get-into-a-career-with-this-sort-of-wake-up-time o'clock, I asked him sternly, What are you doing, DramaBoy?

His matter-of-fact response?

I'm playing with my penis like a choo choo train.

I'm SO going to print out this post and put it in a photo-album to pull out and show his first serious girlfriend someday.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Um, It's A Meme. About Me. Surprise!

Fine. Whatever. It's not like I had anything better to do, like grade papers or create grammar reviews or stuff like that.

Kathleen over at Treasured Chapters felt led to tag me in a meme, and who am I to resist being tagged? What am I, an uncooperative and ungrateful blogger/friend? Not me. So I will graciously allow her to tag me rather than hollering Ollie ollie in come free! and running the opposite way.

So, um, I guess 8 is the magic number. I will try to make this entertaining, as apparently my last meme was a little too straightforward and boring, and I do really want to avoid that. Y'all need to let me know if I get boring, okay? Rather than just surreptitiously discontinuing the feed or cutting me off the Followed Blogs list? Deal?

8 Things I'm Looking Forward To:

1. Slamming those Creative Writing seniors with an evil, evil final exam. That will fix 'em. Serves them right for being so dang snarky lately. I mean, who do they think they are? Legal adults who don't need to pass my class in order to graduate? Mwahahaha!

2. The gifts of gratitude--a.k.a. Cherry Coke and yummy lunches, since I keep forgetting to bring one--that my sophomores swear they will be bringing because I granted them great mercy and eliminated the major presentation assignment attached to their major research paper assignment. Not that my mercy had anything to do with looking at my lesson plans and realizing there wasn't a grasshopper's chance in an aviary of those presentations fitting in anywhere. Not at all.

3. Peeing. Seriously. The two cups of coffee I consumed for breakfast have arrived at the end of their travels and even my legendary teacher's bladder thinks maybe it's a good idea to take care of the matter. Yeah. Be back in a minute.

4. Whew. Okay, what's next? Oh! Having an afternoon that ISN'T filled with some sort of appointment, which means I can pick up the kidlets right after work and head back to the house in time for them to enjoy some time out in the sunshine AND for me to get more of my things settled upstairs.

5. Which leads me to #5, which is getting settled in the lovely, comfortable, comforting attic suite that I get to use now that my parents have left. I slept up there last night, and it was remarkably easy to relax and fall asleep lying in that bed gazing through the skylight at the trees and stars. Plus there's something so satisfying about settling in somewhere: putting things where they belong, figuring out the configuration that will work best, snuggling into a new space. Not that I'm good at keeping my spaces organized and neat, but at least they start out nicely.

6. The yummmmmmmy barbecue pork sauce over couscous that my beloved brother said he'd make for dinner with the leftover pork roast. He'll be using the family recipe that has been a favorite for decades. Mmmmmm. If you are very very good and leave enough sweet comments, maybe I'll share the recipe. What, you think I'd give away such valuable information gratis?

7. Playing World of Warcraft tonight, which I haven't done in a good week and a half. I swear, even if the guild is lame and doesn't gear up for a raid AGAIN, I'm gonna do something fun! Dang it, is there a Red Wings game on? Stupid finals.

8. Friday. Which I have off this week. No school, no work, and I'm not taking any grading home. What?!? you say. Isn't it already a three-day weekend? You get Friday off as well? Ah, but you must realize that in order to get that Friday off, we had to drag ourselves through the torture that is Parent Teacher Conferences--essentially two workdays crammed into one--in order to get a compensation day. I plan to sleep, rest, relax, and unwind. Not necessarily in that order. With perhaps lunch with a good friend thrown in.

8 Things I Did Yesterday: (Because yesterday was such a GOOD day for me, people. Gear up. It's gonna get ugly.)

1. Have two cups of coffee and a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast. My stomach was grateful. Usually it's just deluged with caffeine in an effort to jump start my brain.

2. Realize AFTER my prep that I had forgotten several items that needed to be ready for different classes. Spend the rest of the day (1) trying desperately to catch up and (2) pretending I actually know how to teach.

3. Tell my Creative Writing class that I'd really LIKE to say that I'll miss them (they're almost all seniors, so this is it, folks) but really, that wasn't happening at this rate. Maybe some of them. Maybe.

4. Skim through well over 200,000 words of student writing in order to get their final projects graded in time to report senior grades. Those projects were turned in yesterday, so this was a feat of non-procrastination. A few pieces were excellent. Some of them were decent. The rest of them...I'll be kind and keep my mouth shut.

5. Completely neglect to eat lunch because (1) I forgot to bring one and (2) see #4.

6. Try to compensate, poorly, for the lack of lunch by eating a chocolate Rice Krispie treat and half a double chocolate muffin.

7. Have a very difficult two-hour conversation with my husband fueled only by coffee and (mostly empty) carbs.

8. Finally collapse, after a very late but very needed dinner with my mentor (bless her for meeting me an hour and a half later than we were supposed to), in my new bed under a skylight, where I lay and prayed for the strength to make it through one more day.

8 Things I Wish I Could Do:

1. Remember (and eat) my lunch more than once a week; get more than five hours of sleep per night. Between those two things and my constant dehydration because I don't drink enough water, I'm driving myself into the ground.

2. Turn back the clock and fix so many things that I have to lump them into one wish or this post would be a mile long and way TMI.

3. Teleport myself and my kidlets wherever and whenever I wish. Just think--an hour or two exploring the crystal waters of the Caribbean, then dinner with my parents in the Far Beyond of West Africa, then back home, with no need to get up quite so early in the morning since I wouldn't have to face that commute. Not to mention the drastic decrease in mileage on (or really, need for) my car, which has already surpassed its 3000-mile-hey-you-need-an-oil-change point even though the sticker suggests June 25th.

4. Get onto What Not To Wear without actually having to be quite such a fashion disaster, just so I can get that lovely debit card, trip to New York, two-day shopping spree, and makeover. The advice would be nice too. And I'd be So Good about following Stacy and Clinton's guidelines, I swear I would!

5. Get people to link to and buy from my aStore so I could get credit towards more books. Cuz I'm heading into summer, peoples, and that means I needs me some reading material! And I'm scared of the library. For reasons I'd rather not discuss. *cough* overdue fines *cough*

6. Find a travel coffee mug large enough to accommodate the quantity of coffee I need in the mornings. Cuz the regular ones aren't cutting it. Not that I have a caffeine habit or anything. I can quit any time I want. I just don't want.

7. Get my kidlets to stop whining because ye gods and little graces, they are driving me up the frickin' WALL.

8. Win the lottery. Without actually having to buy a ticket. (Hey, it said wish. Nothing about reality being a requirement in there.)

8 Books I'm Reading: (I'm cheating. It's supposed to be 8 Shows I'm Watching, but been there done that and see above, trying not to lose any more followers. Also, once upon a time I wouldn't have dreamed of starting another book when I hadn't finished one, but times they have changed. I feel positively MPD sometimes.)

1. Hogfather by Terry Pratchett (Death as the Discworld version of Santa Claus--have I mentioned that I love this series? Pratchett is a frickin' genius!!!)

2. Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik (Second in a series that's getting me hooked: an alternative history set in England--mostly--during the Napoleonic Wars, only WITH DRAGONS. So cool and very well written.)

3. Getting the Love You Want by Harville Hendrix, Ph.D. (Technically I haven't started this, but my marriage counselor lent it to me to read, so I need to get around to it. So no comments yet.)

4. Grace (Eventually) by Anne Lamott (I'm taking this in sips. She's good that way.)

5. The Love Dare by Stephen Kendrick and Alex Kendrick (This is challenging, but hopefully worth it. Regardless of the outcome.)

6. Traveling Light For Mothers by Max Lucado (If you're a mom, read this. Seriously.)

7. Stepping Up: A Journey Through the Psalms of Ascent by Beth Moore (I know, I know, Beth Moore isn't everyone's cup of tea. But she can be very good. And this study is really good.)

8. The Bible (More specifically, the Psalms and Romans, currently. It's amazing to me that even though I've read this stuff so much in my life, it's as if it's all new to me. Shows what opening one's eyes, mind, and heart can do.)

OOF! OK, I'm supposed to tag 8 people. I dunno. I'll try. This post took me about three hours to finish, since I did it in bits and pieces, so it's up to them whether they play.

8 Bloggers I Tag:

1. Beck at Frog and Toad Are Still Friends
2. Heidi at Hortus Deliciarum (Sorry, I know you're not big into tags. But I loves you!)
3. oreneta at oreneta aground
4. GingerB at Gas-Food-Lodging
5. Beth at BurkinaMom in France
6. MommyTime at Mommy's Martini
7. Mackenzie at Blog Me (Her last post is an AWESOME poem, by the way. I'm gonna miss her.)
8. Eric at Property of: US Army (I think I just might miss him too. Snarkiness notwithstanding.)

Whew! Duty Complete!

(I'm kidding, Kathleen. I needed something to post without getting all weepy and such, since that's kinda how I am right now, and I wanted a chance to redeem myself for the last major meme I did. *hugs!*)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Putting On The Glitz

Been wondering where to go for that birthday party your little munchkin has looming on the horizon? Want something that offers a full range of services including cake, beverages, kid-friendly location, and entertainment? Trying to raise a child who believes that either the Disney princess or the youthful Paris Hilton look is the greatest aspiration a little girl can have?

Then why not try your local kids' hair salon?

Yes, indeed! What better place to entertain a group of estrogen-laced little kidlettes than a salon that will tart them up in hairspray and butterfly barrettes, cheap glam outfits, glittery makeup, and plastic high heels? And then have them parade down their very own grabbed-from-the-remnant-rack red carpet to the applause and camera flashes of their mamarazzi? Or will let them learn their very own makeup- and mousse-application techniques on a creepy head-on-two-legs doll that they can take home for their future style rehearsals?

That's Snip-Its, "The Most Amazing Kid's Haircut Franchise" known to--um, me! You can choose from the Glamour Party, specially crafted for those pageant mom wannabees; the Hollywood Party, where your little darlings can prepare to be the future Paris Hiltons of Hollywood "celebrity"; or the Style-A-Doll Party, where the dolly creep factor is unbound!

Come--join in the effort to brainwash an entire generation of girls into thinking anything that glitters is, in fact, gold!


When we were looking for a new place to get the boyo's hair cut, now that our beloved Carnival Cuts is defunct, ComputerDaddy spotted Snip-Its near his workplace. Desperate to keep the kidlets from turning into woolly mammoths before our very eyes, we decided to give it a try. (I should note that our previous attempts at home haircuts have been, shall we say, disastrous? I'd rather not have our children be mocked and stoned on the playground, thank you very much.) We checked it out online first, and I was rather surprised to see that they offered birthday events. I don't see how that's possible, opined ComputerDaddy. It's such a little place, tucked between Trader Joe's and another store, that must just be something that happens at other locations.

Despite my inner ick at what I had seen online, I was desperate enough to give the place a whirl. I mean, it's just a kid's salon, right?

Ha. We walked in just in time to witness the grand finale of what I THINK was a Glamour Party. Since they weren't slutted out a la Paris, as the website had shown in their *ahem* "adorable" photos.

Hey, biotches! aren't I HAWT? See ya on Surreal Life!

A gaggle of six six-or-seven-year-old girls in multiple layers of garish clothing, wilting fairy wings, glittery wands, plastic high heels in various shades of pink and purple, and glitter plastered all over their faces and hair was milling about uncertainly at one end of a cheap red runner. A store employee was explaining to them what they were supposed to do. A handful of parents gathered, cameras in hand, at the other end of the carpet. One by one the girls stomped down the runner and stood for a few seconds, then turned and lumbered back. A couple smiled brightly for the camera, one of whom I believe was the birthday girl. A couple looked confused. A couple looked downright sullen and embarrassed. The parents oohed and aahed and marvelled over what a brilliant idea this was. And for only $175?!?! Why couldn't they do something like this for adult birthday parties?!?!

(They do, chickas. They're called Spa Days. Not as cheap, though, and more likely to involve chocolate and mimosas. Much more satisfying, though, in my humble opinion. Unless you'd like karaoke, for that potential public humiliation factor.)

I struggled to keep the sneer off my face, peoples. I mean, girliness is great, and we all know I'm a shoe addict, and I enjoy earrings and makeup and dressing up and all, but in this day of rampant obsession over all things Barbie and Bratz Dolls and Miley Cirus and Britney Spears and Paris Hilton (I'm aiming for some major search-term pop ups here), it seems to me that we're sending a strong message to our little girls about what's important and just what it means to be a Girl these days. It's one thing to enjoy femininity--I'm not saying I don't ooh and aah over precious little dresses with ribbons and bows, or cute pigtails--but it's another entirely to take it to such a glitzy extreme. And then put it on such a display. I think the red carpet strut may have put the whole thing over the top for me, horror-wise.

People can talk all they want about Disney heroines and modern female celebrities being strong, independent women who choose their own paths, but the reality is that Jasmine and Pocahontas and all those chicks are NOT realistic representations of the female body or lifestyle, any more than Barbie or Bratz Dolls. Every time we see young female stars in the news, there's some emphasis (often exclusive) on what they are--or are not--wearing, how many extra ounces of fat they seem to have accumulated, and who they are dating/marrying/divorcing/sleeping with. How many of those celebrities went or are going to college? And if so, how many articles are covering that?

Being the parent of boys is not magically easy, and I believe I will be facing my own set of social issues--not least of which is the horrific Boys Will Be Boys fallacy and a massive double standard regarding male behavior. But right now, having witnessed that birthday party yesterday, I'm grateful I don't have a little girl to raise. I wouldn't be the one giving such a party (bring on Chuck E. Cheese or a day in the park!), but what would I say to my daughter if she was invited to such a thing?

Maybe I'm getting too heated up over a birthday party in a hair salon. And maybe I'm not getting heated up enough. What do you think?

Wasn't That Supposed To Be A Day Of Rest?

So yesterday was fun. Sort of. Here's the run-down:

1. Woken by kidlets demanding sustenance at bleary o'clock in the morning. Stumble downstairs, turn on Wow Wow Wubzy, provide dishes of dry cereal and cups of water, stumble back to bed.

2. Get in and out of bed repeatedly throughout the next few hours to provide additional assistance with various issues such as Banket Banket!, I don't LIKE this TV! (i.e. Change the channel please, dear Mother), and The Widget is making a mess!

3. Finally hoist self out of so-warm-so-comfy bed to take a shower and get dressed in time for church.

4. Go to church. Leave snotty-nosed children behind with ComputerDaddy. Sit with girlfriends and listen to the wonderful associate pastor (a woman! Glory be, I do enjoy an egalitarian denomination) talk about the commandment to love one another as Christ loves us (All right, all right, I hear you, God. Got the point. I'm not as dull-witted as I was, and I don't think I HAVE to be hit over the head with this one any longer. I could be wrong, though.)

5. Return home to find ComputerDaddy hunched over the computer, complaining about the stupid workaholics who feel compelled to work on Sunday and therefore force the poor IT people to also work on Sunday even when they're not workaholics and what is WRONG with this country, dammit?! Realize that plans for a family-time afternoon are going to have to be adjusted because of said stupid workaholics. Hope they're happy.

6. Get ComputerDaddy a sub so he doesn't starve, dress the kidlets (who have been happily demolishing all traces of cleanliness and order), and deal with a whining DramaBoy who probably should take a nap but we need lunch and haircuts, people.

7. Go to a Coney Island and spend way too much money on a lunch that is only half-eaten. Optimistically take leftovers to the car, where they will be left for the next six+ hours and finally thrown out (it's not winter any longer, so the car does not substitute for a fridge. *sigh*)

8. Drive off to the kids' salon ComputerDaddy spotted near his workplace, since Carnival Cuts has shut down and we no longer have a trusted place to go. Which is why the children have been looking more and more like Wookies lately.

9. Enter Snip-Its and wait for fifteen minutes because they are having a birthday party. You heard me right. A birthday party. At a kids' salon. I will be posting about this later, because ye gads. Talk about brainwashing little girls.

10. Witness the miracle of The Widget sitting calmly and politely in a miniature salon chair, hands clasped about a toy in his lap, letting the lady cut his hair without protest even when I leave the room to take DramaBoy to the potty. Wonder if he's been scared into submission by all the girliness.

11. Try to divide attention between both kidlets in different chairs on different sides of the room. End up very happy with The Widget's cut. End up very exasperated with the lady cutting DramaBoy's hair, as it must be redone about three times because she doesn't understand the concept of shorter and straighter, please. Still end up with crooked bangs and too much on top and give up.

12. Head out to go to a park and finally give DramaBoy a chance to ride his bike. Realize five minutes later that both boys are sound asleep in the back seat. Realize there is No Way I can pass up this opportunity to let them nap.

13. Head to a small park that's on the way, park in the lot, leave the fan and radio on for white noise, and settle down for a nap.

14. Sleep for an hour (yeah, me too!) Glory hallelujah.

15. When kidlets wake up, head back home and pick up ComputerDaddy, who has been persuaded that some quality time with the kidlets is actually more important than watching the first game of the Red Wings' division finals series (don't worry--he recorded it on DVR and watched it later). Go to park. Follow DramaBoy around for quite some time as he pedals about madly on his tricycle. Alternately push The Widget on his little scooter, lead him by the hand, and carry him, since he can't pedal very well yet. Defend him from friendly dogs who want to give him kisses.

16. Return home and dig holes in the yard with the kidlets "helping," while ComputerDaddy whacks weeds. Plant raspberry bushes bought at farmer's market on Saturday. Cross fingers and hope they survive.

17. Bathe and feed kidlets. Throw all clothes in laundry, including jackets. Have ComputerDaddy get kids in bed (and in again, and in again, and in again) while I make grilled cheese sandwiches. Cuz I'm a gourmet cook, yo.

18. Collapse.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Dark Side

Today was mostly good, at least between the hours of 10 am and 5:30 pm, but it took a rapid turn toward the Dark Side after that.

My head is killing me. Probably a combination of stress, fatigue, and allergies.

The kidlets have been acting up and driving me crazy. Misbehaving on purpose and then laughing at me sort of thing. They should have been asleep a while ago, as tired as they've been behaving, but I had to get their clothes sorted and put away first and time flew by. And now they won't stay in bed.

I yelled at them. Multiple times. I made them both cry. And it's all I can do not to be too rough with them because I'm so fed up with their attitudes. I know a lot of it is their ages, but some of it is also all the anxiety and stress that is Life These Days, and they're feeling it right along with me.

They're reflecting where I am, and that isn't looking too good.

So I'm going to take some headache medicine and drink lots of water, because I'm probably dehydrated.

And I'm going to order pizza and Greek salad from the little non-chain business with wonderful food and even better service, where they know who I am. They'll deliver, with a smile.

And I'm going to watch some TV or a movie.

And then I'm going to get in a warm bubble bath and read Hogfather, because I need to chuckle and lose myself in a different world.

And maybe tomorrow will be better.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Me And The Boy

Today I had an unexpected Afternoon Out with my little DramaBoy. And it was exactly what I needed. I think God may have known.

I picked DramaBoy up from school a little early today so that we could go in for his (overdue) well visit. I had been spurred into action because he just switched daycares (a post for another time) and needed a new health appraisal. Today was Bike Day at his new school, and DB insisted on riding his tricycle through the playground and down the sidewalk and over the parking lot to get it to the car, his little knees pumping up and down, a huge grin slathered across his face, all Look at me! and joy. And he helped me lift it into the back of the Vue, because he's a Big Boy Now.

So off we went to the doctor, where we were ushered in on time (I know, right?) and found that he is 38.5 inches tall and 29.8 pounds heavy, which makes him average for height and low for weight, but we knew that already. He's a string bean, and the bean doesn't fall far from the vine. Then our beloved doctor came in, and she had him name colors and count to three (He can go up past twenty! I resisted saying) and sing the alphabet song (Now I know my ABCs, next time won't you sing with me! he caroled after a masterful and word-perfect performance, and I resisted breaking into song) and stand on one foot and stand on the other foot and hop up and down and draw a circle and draw a cross and....

She was very impressed. He does that very well, actually! she said time and again, and I tried (with limited success) not to look too smug. And then she confirmed what I pretty much knew, that he's very social and friendly, extremely advanced verbally, very smart, and actually quite advanced in other physical development besides his weight.

No wonder all the little girls love him. And the boys want to be his friend.

*Proud and Contented Sigh*

My little DramaBoy. We did good.

But then *dunh dunh dunh* came the dreaded Shots. We're a little bit behind in vaccinations because he kept getting sick when we were supposed to get them, and we're doing a slower paced schedule anyhow, so he needed a couple today.

And he wept when I told him that we couldn't leave yet because he had to get some pokes.

And he wept as I held him while those nice but mean nurses simultaneously plunged the dreaded needles into his slender thighs.

And he wept as they put cute Band-Aids on the near-invisible punctures.

And then we went and got him a sticker from the box, and we left for greener pastures.

And so our unexpected time as Mother and Son began, because after all the tears and trauma, he needed a Treat. First we went to Kids 'R' Us, primarily to get him a bicycle helmet. Because I'm supposed to be a Good Mother.

(Do you ride a tricycle? asked the doctor.

Yes! chirped DB.

And what are you supposed to wear on your head when you ride it? asked the doctor.

A helmet! chirped DB. And then the honest little fink added, But I don't have one. I don't need a helmet!

I tried not to catch the doctor's eye. She wrote a prescription for a helmet.)

But I also said DramaBoy could get a toy, with two conditions: small and cheap. We then spent half an hour or so trailing through aisle after aisle, DB trying out every toy that spoke or sang or wailed or rattled or made any noise designed to drive parents insane, and I repeated the mantra: Smaller. Cheaper. Much, much quieter. We did at some point find a helmet that fit DB's larger-than-average-but-not-quite-five-year-old-size head, and he finally discovered a wonderful display of die-cast airplanes, each approximately three inches in length (small) and $2.99 (cheap). He chose two, and we went forth happy.

We proceeded from there to Dairy Queen, where he chose a chocolate kid's cone and I chose a small Raspberry Cheesequake Blizzard. (Which was obviously invented by an angel from God, because oh my sweet baby sugarbunnies, I do love me some Raspberry Cheesequake. Just remember that Dairy Queen believes in generosity, and the RC is rich. A small is large enough. Even for me.) We sat, and we ate in companionable silence, our mouths too full of creamy lusciousness to say a word for some time. He asked for a bite of mine at one point and confirmed its excellence, and I directed him in the fine art of Cone Eating.

Unfortunately our plans to then visit a park and let him ride his bike some more while ComputerDaddy picked up The Widget came to naught, for what had been a pleasant spring day turned grey and wet while we ate our treat. DB had a small sad moment, but then I reminded him he had airplanes waiting for him, and we ran for the car with joy anew.

Now he's snuggled in bed in his new SpiderMan pajamas (he asked for them last night when I informed him of the sad news that his old set was now The Widget's size, and when I saw a set at Meijer while doing some quick late-night shopping for dog food: well, what can I say, I'm a sucker) and I am left with sweet memories of a couple of hours when it was just Me and DramaBoy, walking hand-in-hand and talking about the sort of things that are important to a Small Boy.

And my heart is full.

In Which I Panic And Use Many Capital Letters, Probably Both Unnecessarily, But I Don't Want To Repeat Horrific History Here, Folks




See, I just realized recently that Summer is only 3.5 weeks away (school-year speaking, which is what counts for me and the kidlets) and I have not yet really planned for this event! And this year I am determined NOT to sit around each day languishing on the couch while the kidlets mooch around zoned out of their minds because Mommy Is Depressed And Boring. They will be going to school (a.k.a. daycare, which is a Fun Place They Love, but we use Big Boy terminology) two days out of the week (also be determined and *ACK* haven't done that yet either--note to self, pin down ComputerDaddy about this) but there will be THREE other days to fill with non-boring things not counting the weekends.

And me? So NOT a preschool teacher. I mean, I have the plastic bin of craft stuff, but there's only so much time that can be filled with that sort of thing. And yes, I'll take them to the park and such, but I also want to do Fun Events like water park (for littles) days and visits to the Detroit Institute of Art and the Detroit Zoo and maybe Vacation Bible School if I can find a church that does that for kids under 5 (I love my church but it is apparently age-ist in that area) and swimming lessons and...

All this takes Planning.

Which is sending me spinning because I am, of course, building this up into a Massively Important Thing and if I fail then All Is Lost. And yes, I should probably talk to my therapist about that.

You have to understand that making this summer successful for myself and the kidlets is really important in terms of Turning Things Around. The last three summers have been Really Bad. The first one I had a newly-crawling DramaBoy and had just found out that I was very unexpectedly pregnant with The Widget. I didn't know how to keep DramaBoy very entertained, I was sick and exhausted, and I was terrified about the whole Having Two Kids thing. And I was depressed, though in denial about that aspect.

The second summer followed an intense period of Absolute Terror because here you go, girl, you've got a toddler and an infant and you're On Your Own. The highlights were Thursday mornings when I could take DramaBoy to daycare (he went two days a week during the summer, which saved my remaining sanity) and then drive infant Widget down to the Ann Arbor area, where I and my dear friend Katrina, who's oldest boyo is seven weeks older than The Widget*, would tote our wee ones to a movie theatre that showed new movies for parents and infants in the mornings. Cheaper tickets (babies free), slightly higher lighting so you could see the babies, lowered sound so their hearing wasn't damaged, diaper changing stations in the front, and no one who would care or judge if you whipped out a boob and nursed your child right in the room. Those hours were heaven. And then we'd go out to lunch together and have Adult (if frequently Mommy) conversation before I'd wend my reluctant way home to my regular life of depression and Being Overwhelmed. Though in denial about those aspects.

And last summer...last summer just Sucked. Both boys were too old and yet too young to go to infant movie mornings (no longer infants content to sleep and/or suckle, not yet school-age kids interested in sitting for an hour and a half to watch a whole movie). I was so depressed (though still in denial) and exhausted and lacking in motivation that we spent most days stuck inside, me on the couch watching hours of TV, kids wandering about playing with toys and getting very bored and whiny. The highlight of the summer was a day at the zoo with another friend and her two boys. And considering that was the hottest day of the summer and we spent most of the time staring at empty pens (the animals were hiding out, being smarter than us) and hanging out in the Arctic Circle display (which was cool and damp and has an awesome underwater tunnel where we could watch the seals and the polar bear, who was swimming in endless circles trying to keep cool as well)--that tells you how desperate I was.

I don't want my children to be stuck indoors all summer with a mother too depressed to play with them or make the day interesting and educational. Play time, with its emphasis on learning how to entertain oneself, is important, but it can't be the norm for every hour of every day. I'm still dealing with my depression, but there's the key--I'm DEALING with it. Acknowledging it, facing it, working with it, learning about it. I don't WANT to sit around the whole day. I admit, I fully intend to allow myself the occasional few hours of vegging on the couch--but I'll do that rarely and on the days the boys are in school, rather than when they're around.

But this all means I need to Plan, and I need to Prepare.

And that means I am Panicking.

Do you have some suggestions? Do you know of any specific child-friendly events or places to go (especially free or inexpensive) in the Metro-Detroit area? Do you want to hook up with our kids if you live in the area? Do you want to plan out my days for me? (Well, maybe not the last one, but the others at least....)

I'll be okay, really, but I don't object to your advice and help.

Which is saying a lot, actually. My admitting to panic and asking for help is kind of new.

Good for me.

*She told me she was pregnant and I offered her my maternity clothes to borrow, which she did gratefully. One week later I had to call her up and say Oops, sorry, gonna need those back.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Update On My Cousin

For those of you who have been wondering about my young teen cousin, he had surgery yesterday and is recovering fairly comfortably now.

My uncle (who is a doctor) wrote an email full of big medical words. I'm not even going to try to do more than vaguely understand it. I do get the part about Matthew probably needing radiation therapy. And the last line, which is a very good one. But if you're interested, here's what was written:
The diagnosis on fine needle aspiration biopsy last Wednesday of mucoepidermoid carcinoma was confirmed on pathology of the tumor which was removed. It appears to be a low (less aggressive) to intermediate grade tumor under the microscope but did invade the chewing muscle on that side, part of which was removed to obtain a tumor free margin along with the periosteum, the membrane around his jaw bone. The surgeon...was able to skillfully resect the whole parotid which wraps around the facial nerve without disrupting the nerve so that he has full movement of his face. Because the tumor was invading the masseter muscle and was up against the jaw bone, he may need post operative radiation therapy beginning sometime after a month. That decision will be a shared one informed by the known risks and benefits,
realizing that Matthew’s tumor is a bit more aggressive than a purely low grade tumor but that the risk of radiation must take into account his young age and
therefore greater probability of harm in his lifetime. Either way, the probability of cure with simply surgery is very high with 5 year cancer specific survival rates in the high 90 percentiles. That is, while this has been very frightening, Matthew is not likely to die of this cancer. (emphasis added by TM)

As you can imagine, this week has been full of stress for my family, extended as well as immediate. Thank you to those of you who have left kind words and/or have been praying.

Keep it up. The story isn't over.

They're Leaving On A Jet Plane

It's only 8 am and I've already been in tears today.

My parents are flying out of the country today and, barring something happening with my grandparents or my sister giving birth, will not be back for two years.

I am blessed with amazing parents. I can't put it into words right now because I really don't want to end up blubbering all over my desk and facing my first class with mascara streaking my cheeks. It's hard enough just writing the words they are leaving and I will not see them in person for a very long time.

My sons will be 4 and 5 1/2 by the time they return. My heart aches for them, because they have such a tight bond with my parents, and they don't really understand what it means that Grandma and Grandpa are leaving for Africa. Especially The Widget, who I fully expect will spend quite some time, days and maybe weeks, wandering about the house calling Bampa! Bampa! before he finally understands that Bampa will not be showing up for a big hug and a romp on the rug and cuddles before bed. DramaBoy is going to miss Grandma's lap and long bedtime stories from The Big Picture Story Bible, with her endless patience with his desire to flip back and forth as the words and pictures in one story remind him of those from another...

We will be doing all we can to keep that bond going. My Mother's Day gift from my parents was a web cam. They only have dial-up in the town where they live, but when they get to some of the bigger cities, such as Abidjan or Bamako or Ouagadougou, they can Skype. This means that my children will be able to see their grandparents from time to time rather than only talking on the phone or having emails read to them.

But my heart still aches, for my children, for myself, for my parents themselves, for all the friends and family who must say Goodbye again and again so that my parents can fulfill God's calling in their lives. I know that I am not alone and they have not abandoned me. My father said this morning as I clung to him, You know if you need us, we'll come back. And I know they would. I have faith in their love for me and my family. I have faith that they are doing what is right. But. Those who say faith and following God are the easy way out have no idea what they're saying. Faith is hard, so very hard.

And so is saying Goodbye.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Grace In Small Things #6: (Mostly) Mother's Day Photo Essay Edition

1. A lovely message (sidewalk chalk medium on wooden deck) by DramaBoy and The Widget--a.k.a. ComputerDaddy

2. Grilled sweet corn-on-the-cob

3. Fresh flowers from the yard, proof that plant life can survive (and even thrive) despite me

4. The Widget, a pair of toddler sunglasses, and an awesome (and cool) Auntie A

5. Dandelions picked and offered as love gifts by small boys

Monday, May 11, 2009

Would I Do THAT?

When I stayed over at a friend's house on Friday night because we would be getting up early in the morning to get to the massive department-store style Mom-to-Mom sale at her church, and I realized that in my hurry to get out of the house before the kidlets trapped me forever that I had forgotten to pack any clean underwear, I did not simply wear the same underwear two days in a row. And I did not skip a shower in the morning so I could sleep in an extra fifteen minutes. And I did not borrow both toothpaste and deodorant because I'd forgotten those too. *Ahem. Sorry, K!*

And I did not delay cleaning out my car for so long that when I finally tackled it on Friday afternoon, the process was more like clearing out an archeological dig than picking up some trash.

And when one of my students asked a particularly idiotic question, I did not simply stare at him in disbelief and then walk over and actually bang my head on the dry erase board rather than explain why he was wrong.

I also did not then print out an appropriate lolcat and put it up on my board with a magnet. Next to the magnet that says There's nothing wrong with teenagers that trying to reason with them won't AGGRAVATE and another that says Never underestimate the power of a seriously pissed off woman.

Would I do something like that?

For more Not-Me Mondays, check out MckMama's post.

Because We're Ready For Summer Too

I wish I could take full credit for this email that was sent out today by a few of us English teachers who are "blessed" to be "teacher leaders" this year. But I can't. The main genius was S---. But I helped. Especially with the snarky bits.
Hello, hello.
Product of teacher leader meeting, courtesy of C---, M--- [a.k.a. TeacherMommy], and S---.
EVERYBODY: Meet at N--------- in the afternoon, room A205. Bring your grade specific unit planner binder thingy--you choose your grade. Ninth and tenth will review what we've done so far with the binders, eleventh will look ahead and become familiar with the new binder.
9th grade teachers: We are reviewing the binder, cutting it down to four units, and being happy, fun-loving teachers of intro to lit. Just bring your binder. Or else. We will meet in A113 after our whole group meeting in A205. No threats for you because S--- is nice.
10th: We are reviewing the binder and organizing grammar into units we can all get along with. By all, I mean district wide, so try to behave yourselves and get along. Bring your binders and your grammmmmmaaaaaaar books. Meeting in B205 after whole group A205. Or else M--- will cut you with a grapefruit spoon. They're sharp.
11th: We are looking ahead at the bee-you-tee-ful new binders, which you don't have yet, but will, thanks to K--- L---, since he is the LORD and MASTER [quoth M---]. Eleventh grade may break up into separate rooms because, well, that's how we roll. Rooms will be announced by said L&M.
J--- bring your binder and the new eleventh grade textbook.
M---, even though you're dictating this email to me, do the same. Or else C--- will run you over with a zamboni.
There will be a Brit Lit Invitational on August 11. Special people only. By invitation. No gifts necessary, unless it involves beverages for M---. You know, Cherry Coke.
There will also be a Teacher Leader Party, by invitation only, on September 1. You all are probably not invited/cursed. We just wanted to throw that out there.
If there is anything else, we will send another slap-happy email at a later date.
See you all Wednesday, if not before.
-CMS (Not Cosmo-Makers Symposium, but we wish)


Context: English 11 class is taking a quiz after viewing Much Ado About Nothing, answering questions about the play, and doing some activities around the text. The title has been prominently displayed, not to mention mentioned, throughout the week.

Young Idiot: Ms. TeacherMommy? There's a typo here.

TeacherMommy (gasping with dismay):
Where? Where, for the love of God!?!?!

Young Idiot (pointing to the top of the quiz): Right here.

TeacherMommy (puzzled): Where? I don't see anything.

Young Idiot: Right there! That word!

He points to the second word in the title. As in "Ado."

Young Idiot: It's supposed to be "Much TO DO About Nothing!"

TeacherMommy: *bangs head against dry erase board, speechless*

You know what they say about there being no stupid questions?

Yeah. They're wrong.


I have a wee confession: my sunset poem was in response to a tag I received on Facebook from a former schoolmate, who prompted us to write a poem using the line "bring me the sunset in a cup". So I did. I didn't want to set that up and tag people here because I wanted the poem to stand alone.

But I can't take full credit for the idea, so I confess.

And now my friend Kathleen has written not one but two wonderful poems based on this prompt, so go check them out!

I'm not going to tag people this time around, but if you would like to take up the challenge, please do--and then do Mr. Linky below! Kathleen, would you do Mr. Linky for me too, please, even though I've linked to you directly? I want to make sure it's working....

Saturday, May 9, 2009

bring me the sunset

bring me the sunset in a cup
and i will drink deep

of sunny childhood's laughter
tumbling romps in neighbor's yards
picnics on quilted blankets
grapes and strawb'ries exploding in mouths

of long-ago lovers' sighing
sweet kisses on sandy beaches
long walks through emerald arches
leaf'd lanes by sapphire waters

of golden summer's promise
joyful dandelions in unfettered meadows
lazy heat shimm'ring on upturned face
bronzed by sun's blazing touch

of purple evening's peace
whispering breezes on shaded paths
fireflies flick'ring in amethyst twilight
caught a moment in glass, then freed

bring me the sunset in a cup
and i will drink deep
and capture each memory in a draught

--TeacherMommy, 2009

Friday, May 8, 2009

WoW + Mom = Different But Awesome

For Aludra, who asked for ideas on what to get for a mom who doesn't want jewelry but plays World of Warcraft with her daughter (now that's an awesome mom, ya know! :P), here are some places to look:

There is quite a variety of WoW paraphenalia online. Try WarCrackWare for a variety of WoW-themed clothing, or the official Blizzard store for an official Horde or Alliance t-shirt, or YouBuyNow for a variety of action figures/t-shirts/merchandise, or Etsy for a whopping 167 World of Warcraft-themed items for sale! That's what I found in a mere few minutes of quick googling. The list goes on.

That's just quick, but it's something....

For You, Mother

I was born in the midst of a storm
Arriving as inconveniently as possible
Eyes open
Face up
Judging the world even as I entered

Your life was changed in that moment
Shifting into Mother and Center of My World
Arms open
Heart filled
Loving me before you even knew who I was

The storm has continued for three decades since
Wounding your heart from time to time
Angry words
Angry choices
Shutting you away from me and my pain

And you loved
And you prayed
And you grieved
And you reached out through time and time again
Of shifting welcome and rejection

Still my friend
Still my enemy
Still my antithesis
Still my secret part-of-self
Still my mother

And when my world fell apart
At long last
As you knew
And feared
And hoped it would

You were there
As you always had been there

And you loved
And you prayed
And you grieved
And you reached out through my fog of pain
To welcome me Home.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Loss, However Virtual And Minute

I saw a moment ago that I have lost a follower, and though somehow I can't figure out who it was (which I suppose says something in and of itself), it saddens me. I know I actually have more readers than I have official followers, but nevertheless it was sort of comforting to see the double-digits, to know that ten people were willing to click that button that meant every time I post something it will come up on their Followed Blogs.

I also can't help but wonder why. Have I been insufficiently amusing? Have I not posted enough about a topic that person wanted to read? Is he/she offended by the infiltration of faith into my posts? Does he/she hate the new look of the site? Does he/she have something against Amazon.com? (Maybe he/she is a Border's employee.) Or is it just that he/she closed down the account or slimmed down his/her blogroll or something that really doesn't relate to me?

Ah well. I suppose in the long run it shouldn't bother me, not really. It was just a name I can't remember with a profile picture I don't recall.

(By the way, you other followers, I'm now paying more attention to who you are. So be comforted. I loves you!)

Mother's Day In 3...2...1...

OK, so I know the last time I posted a Fashion Friday it was all about being green, and I said I'd be posting more of the same for the next few weeks, and then I totally failed to do one last Friday at all. And technically speaking today is not Friday. Believe it or not, my brain is working, at least at that level of coherency. Higher order thinking, not so much.

But it occurred to me that Mother's Day is creeping up, and while I have a doomed feeling that there is no way I'll be done with my gift for my mother (and certainly won't have it framed in time), at least I have it nearly done and can show it to her. Some of y'all either need to get your own butts in gear or have spouses and children whose butts are going to be in deep trouble come Sunday because The Shopping Has Not Been Done.

I know that many people like to give and receive jewelry on Mother's Day. And a lot of it is rather corny, to be frank. There are only so many great big hearts with MOM plastered across them that one woman can hang about her neck.

So as a public service to you (you're welcome), whether as a last-minute purchase for Sunday or as a Better-Make-It-Doubly-Good-Next-Time situation, I have searched the Interwebs for possible jewelry that (at least in this mom's opinion) would be welcome additions to the jewelry chest. I've tried to find items that are appealing and directed towards moms, but not in a cheesy Precious Moments sort of way. (Sorry, PM fans. Those things make me vomit in my mouth just a little.) I also tried to find items that wouldn't absolutely destroy one's wallet. Granted, these aren't pieces that your average child is going to be able to afford, piggy bank or no piggy bank, but I think that a pooling of resources or a generous (and possibly desperate) father isn't out of the question.

So here you go.

Our first stop is over at Collectibles Today, which has plenty of cheese in its pages but a few lovely pieces as well. I fell in love with this A Heartfelt Bond Personalized Trinity Ring [$149], which allows children's names and birthstones to be chosen. If you're into heart pendants (which I'm not so much, but this one is nice), there's the Forever In A Mother's Heart Personalized Heart Shaped Birthstone Pendant [$119], which has clever birthstone dangling pendants on the main pendant. In a simpler style, but still with hearts and birthstones, there's the Lineage of Love Diamond & Birthstone Pendant [$99]. If you're looking for a personalized name and birthstone bracelet instead of a necklace, I loved the elegant but non-fussy Family Birthstone Charm Bracelet [$119].

Next we check into Heavenly Treasures, which has some gorgeous pieces that appeal to my taste for elegant simplicity. First there's the Family Bond Necklace, which comes in either 14k gold [$198] or sterling silver [$35], and which can be adjusted for one or two parents and from one to four children--eight permutations! Then there's the sterling silver Birthstone Family Bond Charm Necklace [$35], which only shows the mother figure but can have specific birthstone charms selected [$5 each]. Now, usually I'm a little Enh about cameo jewelry, but this absolutely breathtaking Mother & Baby cameo pendant [$198] is a major exception. I want it. Badly.

Finally we stop by Patagonia Gifts, which has a huge array of amazing jewelry and gifts, including a wide selection of Irish pieces that appeal to the touch of Celtic in my soul. Looking at their Mother's Day selection, I noticed this Interlaced Hearts Pendant [$59], which again is an exception to my usual no-heart-pendants taste (though I'm not much for wearing silver myself). Then I was struck by yet another heart pendant, the 'Mom' Heart Pendant [$59]--this time with Mom written across it, but in such a unique and striking way that it is a double exception (the no-heart-pendants and no-Mom-label-on-jewelry rules).

But I didn't stop there at Patagonia. Let's face it, not all jewelry given to Mom's needs to be specifically related to motherhood. And Patagonia has this utterly unique line of Real Leaf jewelry that amazed me. They take real leaves, flowers, and even nuts from nature and coat them in metal--gold or silver--and create jewelry out of them. They're all pretty cool, but the line I fell in love with was the Autumn line, which takes these pieces of natural art, encases them in silver plate, and then dips them in iridescent plating to create an amazing look. The pieces I particularly love are the Forget-Me-Not Flower Autumn Gold Pendant, the Gingko Leaf Autumn Gold Pendant, the Maple Leaf Autumn Gold Pendant, the Acorn Autumn Gold Pendant, and the Ivy Leaf Autumn Gold Pendant, each $56. However, there are quite a few other gold and silver pendants, as well as gold and silver pins, gold and silver earrings, accessories, and ornaments.

So cool. Check it all out.

Well, there's my public service announcement for the day. Remember, every day should be Mother's Day, but this Sunday is the one day when even the government remembers how important we are. Don't you be the one to forget!

This Is For My WoW Peeps

Because you know it's true.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

So, Moving To The Subject Of Students...

funny pictures

moar funny pictures

Enough said.

Unexpected Grace

OK, so I think perhaps God answers prayer.

Yeah, I know, right? Duh. But sometimes it's not the way we expect, you know?

This morning I rose, groggy as usual, and found myself actually able to smile and joke around with kids in the hall (um, not the fabulous Canadian show, but hey, you have no idea how much I see stuff like that anyhow) and feel like blogging about things that actually might make someone laugh rather than curl up in a ball under the covers and wish the Universe would go away.

And this, all this, despite the fact that really not much has changed since yesterday other than Horrible News my family received last night.

Which is where God comes in, because only He could put that something-approaching-peace-and-maybe-even-joy in my soul, feathered or not. That's true grace.

You see, last night we received a call to let us know that my teenage cousin, Matthew, was just diagnosed with a malignant tumor in his jaw, located in his salivary gland (the same place people get mumps, apparently). He will be getting an MRI to determine the tumor's boundaries and the necessary approach for excising it, and then will undergo surgery next week.

You have to understand that on top of the horror of a teen having cancer, Matthew's mother, my own mother's only sister, died a little over two years ago of leukemia. She was only 43 and left behind five children. She had gone through hell to get those children, with repeated fertility treatments and miscarriages that finally resulted (after a very difficult pregnancy) in Matthew and his twin sister. After additional failed attempts at in vitro, they adopted a little boy and a little girl (8 months apart in age) from Kazakhstan--and then discovered that, like Jacob and Rachel, she had miraculously become pregnant while they were adopting, and along came their own Benjamin.

So when she died she left behind five very beloved children: two 13-year-olds, two 3-year-olds, and a 1 1/2-year-old. She died a shining example of faith in the face of tragedy, and she went to join all the little children waiting for her in heaven whom she had not known on earth.

Meanwhile her husband met and married a wonderful woman, also widowed by cancer, who had two young boys of her own. This amazing family of NINE (five boys and two girls), has been through so much. And here comes another blow, another challenge to their faith.

I did not appreciate the power of my aunt's faith when she died. It took me a long time to come to terms with her death. Only recently could I really start facing it. This time, while the news about Matthew is still somewhat unreal to me, I can join in the faith that regardless of the outcome, God can and will use this situation for good. I do not believe He caused the cancer, but I do believe He can heal it. And if for some reason this is not the outcome, I do believe He can use Matthew's story for good, just as he used my aunt's.

And so God has turned to me and blessed me with a measure of peace, a dollop of joy, even as I feel an ache within that Horrible Things happen to those who love Him.

I promise some laughter in a later post. God has also blessed me with two highly amusing children. Look for it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Insufficient Unto This Day

I'm tired and I'm sad and I feel stretched in a thousand directions, pulled thin like taffy, never knowing when the tension will break me.

There isn't enough time in the day, in the week, in the month to share with those I love.

I wish I could spend hours on end cuddling and playing with my kidlets so they know I love them deeply, that they are so precious to me that my heart aches when I think of them.

I wish I could spend hours on end snuggling with my husband watching favorite shows and playing favorite games and just being together so he realizes that I love him deeply, that I yearn for connection with him and healing for us.

I wish I could spend hours on end talking with my parents and sharing thoughts and dreams so they know I love them deeply, that my heart is breaking because they're leaving and thousands of miles will stretch between us.

I wish I could spend hours on end laughing and talking and connecting with my dear friends M. and C., whom I have not seen in weeks and weeks, so they realize that I love them deeply, that I have not forgotten them and want to share in their lives.

I wish I could spend hours reading and studying and praying so that I can connect with God, deepen this new and oh-so-young relationship, so that His strength can also be mine.

I feel spread thin, as though I prepared a meal for fifteen only to discover it was supposed to be for fifty, and now I'm watering down the stew and scrambling to make more out of not-enough. The portions I dish out are miserly, weak, insufficient.

And I don't know what to do about it.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Grace in Small Things #5: Because Eric Says I Should

Grumble, grumble. Fine.

1. Junk food provided by students, out of bribery and kindness. Who needs lunch when you have Doritos?

2. Getting to watch Much Ado About Nothing, which is actually fun, and getting paid for it.

3. Talking about babies and poop in class, therefore getting to gross out students and make them laugh. (You know, rather than actually teach anything.) And therefore being told I should teach Sex Ed because I am straightforward and don't lie and have funny stories that nevertheless teach them something about Real Life. And that teen pregnancies would probably drop due to the poop stories alone.

4. Getting a sinfully delicious recipe for Icebox Cake. MommyTime is evil. Oh, and getting to make Her Bad Mother's day by linking her to the recipe!

5. Knowing I get to cuddle kidlets and see my brother today, and that my parents will be arriving home tonight after two weeks away.

Not Me Monday #1

Before I get around to posting that GIST that dang Eric has guilted me into, I'm going to do a Not Me Monday, inspired by MckMama. Just because it's fun. Feel free to do your own and link back there.

This last week, I most definitely did not feed my kidlets blueberry Eggo waffles for dinner (with syrup) because I felt too lazy to cook and too weak-willed to deny their pleas. Not me. No way. I always feed my children healthful, balanced, nutritious home-cooked meals.

This last week, I did not ditch work early and cancel my therapy appointment to go home and take a two-hour nap. And I most definitely did not then stay up until midnight that night playing World of Warcraft instead of getting to bed on time.

This last week, I did not purchase a cupful of chocolate-covered raspberries, fresh-dipped that morning, and then consume them all in one sitting. I also did not eat half a bag of Twizzlers during the same long drive with a friend. And I did not resist eating the other half of the bag only because said friend ate the other half. Not me!

This morning, I did not trade a confiscated hat to its owner student in exchange for a Ziploc baggie of Cheetos. And when his girlfriend did not text a friend in class who I did not permit to text back, I did not bargain forgiveness for coming to class late in exchange for a Cherry Coke and a bag of Doritos.

I did not completely fall off the healthy-eating lifestyle the last several weeks. I did not stop exercising, either. And I have not gained back some of my flab. Of course not. Not me.

Never me.

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