Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Do you think I have a problem?

I had some extra time over the relaxing Memorial Day weekend, and I did something that simultaneously baffles me and makes me laugh.

I cleaned out my purse.

Over the years, my purses have evolved from small little clutches that fit under my armpit, to enormous, knapsack-like purses into which I could stuff a few of my children.

Not that I would.

Even my own mother doesn’t understand my preference for the large purse, but I think it’s quite simple.

The bigger the purse, the more crap you can tote around with you on a daily basis.

And I mean crap.

As I said, I started to clean out my purse this past weekend, but I was shocked at what I found. Apparently, inside I’m a mess.

At least inside my purse.

I just had to share it with the world, and I hope you can relate.

Here is the pile in all its glory:

Let me break it down for you.

Cheese stick, anyone? Upon closer inspection, I discovered that it is actually not expired yet. It’s a little warm, slightly mushy, and might distress your stomach for a few days, but it’s yours for the taking!

Charlie and Henry earned their Wolf and Tiger cub badges. I’m so proud. However, instead of displaying these hard-won badges with pride, they landed in the bottom of my purse, and haven’t seen the light of day in weeks.

Bad mommy.

In the Health and Beauty aisle of my purse, you will find two of Mom’s favorite helpers: migraine-strength acetaminophen and hand sanitizer. Migraines are a downside of this job, but a gal’s gotta be prepared. And I figure I should at least sanitize my childrens' hands before they pick their noses, right?

Good mommy.

Here we will find an assortment of wrappers, and uneaten snacks. If you notice, the granola bar has the top corners of the wrapper ripped off. What happened there? Did I decide to eat it, then decide against it? What was the battle in my mind at that moment?

Who cares? I decided to eat it as I continued to clean out my purse.

Hey, don't judge me.

Seriously. How many lipsticks do I need? And why are they all versions of the same color?

I'm just sayin'.

Seven Bed Bath and Beyond coupons? These are huge, by the way. Is this size really necessary, Bed Bath and Beyond? And do I really need seven of them? I guess my thought process on this one is that I have a few weddings to go to this summer, and I need to be armed and ready with my coupon savings at all times. God forbid I carry less than seven of them.

Now that would be a tragedy for this bargain-hunter.

This one made me laugh. The name of the salon is on the front, and it’s a reminder card for a hair appointment. But the card has no reminder whatsoever. Service? Don’t know. Time? Your guess is as good as mine. Day of the week? Figure it out yourself, lady.

Thanks for nothing, reminder card.

Superman doesn’t ask for much. He just wants to live a life free of kryptonite, and he wants to be able to do his job saving the planet. Unfortunately, he’s been stuck at the bottom of my messy purse for so long that he’s looking a little peeved, to say the least.

Next we find a pacifier. Now that seems like a logical thing for a mom to have at the bottom of her purse, doesn't it? However, Annabel is 2, so we’re trying to wean her off of it. On the other hand, I have to be ready in case she needs her fix.

Gotta feed the latex addiction.

In the Accessories Department of Clare’s purse, you will find two bracelets, two earrings, and a funky black stone ring. Notice the gum shards stuck to the outside of the bangle.


Of course, what mother’s purse would be complete without the requisite Matchbox car? A Matchbox car with chunks of unchewed gum stuck to the body, that is. Mmmmm...tasty and fun to play with.

A wadded up piece of toilet paper? What can I say? I had a cold recently and ran out of tissues. A girl’s gotta be resourceful. Two-ply Charmin to the rescue.

Hair accessories! That’s normal, right? Not sure that the bobby pin will work anymore, but I’m a fan of the comb with the stick at the end. It looks like something that you would stick in the back pocket of your jeans, circa 1983. Not sure what the stick does, but I’ve been looking for this comb. I’m glad I found it.

Here we have two random lists. Ironically, I was looking for the top list recently and misplaced it. I had to make a new list, and one of the things on my list was to find this list because it had lots of “to dos” on it. Huh.

And finally, I found a medicine cup. It has dried up Children's Motrin in the bottom of it. Gross. No excuses for this one. Not sure how it ended up in the vortex of my purse, but I take full responsibility.

We tell men that it's inappropriate to ever go into a woman's purse uninvited. We try to make them think it's bad manners, but we really tell them that because we just don't want them to see what huge slobs we can be.

My kids are infomercial junkies, and they got sucked into the spiel about the Buxton Organizer. They wanted to buy it for me for my birthday. Thankfully, Bill talked them out of it.

But Henry was very excited that I could potentially fit two water bottles in my purse.

Doesn't he know that I can do that already? I just might not be able to find them so easily. And gum might get stuck to the sides of them. And hey, what's the fun of an organized purse?

Besides, I don't think there's room for Superman in the unfashionable, but oh-so-useful Buxton organizer.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Popsicles, watch your back.

I’m going to go on record and say something that might be very divisive. But I’ll say it anyway.

I’m anti-popsicle.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the way popsicles taste, and sometimes there’s nothing more refreshing on a hot summer day than a frozen juicy treat.

However, let’s just say that “recent events” have caused me to hate on popsicles.

Now that it’s almost summer, my kids can’t get enough popsicles. They’re constantly asking, “Can I have another popsicle, mom? PUH-LEEEZE?!? Mooooommmm! Pleeeeeeeease can I have another popsicle?”

Usually they follow it up with, “I promise we’ll eat it outside (or in the kitchen)! I promise we’ll throw away the stick and the wrapper!”

Promises, schmomises.

I am not a neat freak. I have what you would call a comfortable home. Six people live here, so I’m okay with a controlled amount of clutter and mess.

But I draw the line at popsicle stains on the carpet, and sticky popsicle footprints all over the hardwood floors. I hate the feeling of standing or walking on my floors and lifting up my foot, only to find that it’s half-stuck to the floor, courtesy of dried-up purple popsicle juice. Ugh.

The popsicle sticks and the clear plastic Fla-vor-ice wrappers make their way onto our lawn too, and Bill inevitably shreds them up with the blades of grass as he mows.

I have not complained about it until now. But today was the last straw. This afternoon, I was picking up the toys in our family room. We have beige carpets, but when I lifted up one particular toy, I noticed a large, circular orange stain in the middle of the family room.

What was on top of the stain? A wooden popsicle stick.

Apparently, one of my kids, (or our newest family member, It Wasn’t Me) got tired of eating the popsicle, laid it down on the carpet, and it melted. But the pile of toys surrounding it prevented me from seeing the stain until about three hours later, when it had completely dried up.

Dried up.

A dried up, coagulated, congealed, sticky, orange mess.

I was seeing red. Well, actually I was seeing orange, but get the joke?

Ha. Ha.

Fortunately, I was able to go to my arsenal (yes, I actually have an arsenal) of stain-removal products and I cleaned up most of the stain. I swear I still see an orangey glow, but maybe I’m just kidding myself and my eyes are playing tricks on me.

I wish I could say I banned popsicles from my home, but fortunately for the sake of my kids, I’m not that mean.

After all, what kind of party pooper bans popsicles? What is summer without faces stained red from the juice of a popsicle? Or arms stained all the way to the elbow from the drips of a popsicle as a chubby little hand clutches it? Yep, popsicles and kids go together like summer and swimming.

Maybe I’m softening my stance a little bit as I write this. Maybe I’m not so much anti-popsicle, as I am anti-popsicle-in-the-house. How does that sound? A little nicer?

Gotta go. The sun is shining, the weather is warm, and the kids and I have to get to work on that box of Fla-vor-ice.

200 popsicles in the box?

No problem.

What a great excuse to spend the day outside.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Caught in the act

The other day, I was caught in the act.

I was caught red-handed.

I was doing something very naughty, but it was something that I’m sure many of you moms do on a daily basis.

What was I doing, you ask?

I was throwing away some of my kids school projects and homework papers.


My kids bring home so many school projects and so many homework assignments that it would be impossible to keep each and every thing. I would be overwhelmed by the amount of paper that accumulates in my house on a daily basis. Therefore I have been “recycling” most of their school papers and projects for years. (See, I said “most”.) But so far, it’s been my dirty little secret.

In my defense, I always keep papers that have a handprint on it, or a really precious drawing, or a cute story that they wrote. I keep samples of their early writing so I can share it with them someday. I save some A+ papers that I know were a struggle to finish. These things that I save are stored in big Rubbermaid boxes that I keep for each child.

However, I couldn’t possibly keep it all. I just haven’t told my kids that I actually throw some of it away.

Come on. I know you do it too. Admit it.

A few times my boys have found a school paper or two in the recycling bin, but I have just feigned outrage and acted surprised. I’ve said, “Oh my goodness! How did THAT get in there? It must have gotten stuck to the bottom of the newspapers! Give that back to me right now!”

They’ve always believed me, so I have gotten away with it.

But the other day, Charlie stumbled upon me in the actual act of “recycling” school papers. I couldn’t lie and say that these papers were “stuck with the newspapers” because I was only holding the school papers in my hand, and not newspapers.

"Why are you throwing away my homework, Mom?" he asked.

I stammered a bit, and then decided to tell him the truth. I said something like, “I enjoy looking at everything you guys bring home,” and “I save many important things.” I also said that I “wished I could save everything.” He was a little upset at first, but I think he got over it.


Speaking of pitching things, guess what else I threw away the other day?

A yellow Matchbox car.

And I loved every minute of it.

With three boys, I have accumulated more Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars than Toys ‘R Us has in stock at one time. If I were to sit down and count each and every one of them, I’m sure they would number well into the hundreds. No kidding.

A few years ago, my mother-in-law found boxes and boxes of Bill’s old die cast cars that he used to play with as a little boy. Lucky me, she brought all of them to our house to add to our growing collection.


Someone needs to conduct a study on these little die cast cars, because I think they know how to reproduce. Maybe they’re like an asexual plant, and one die cast car can produce new little cars that sprout off the back fender.

I’m convinced this is true because I don’t think I’ve actually bought all of these cars. Sure, a few of these cars were potty-training rewards when my boys were younger, and a few were gifts or stocking stuffers, but really? It just doesn’t seem possible that I’ve purchased most of them, and therefore wasted boatloads of money on die cast cars.

Now before the staunch environmentalists get upset with me for throwing away a little metal car that will sit in a landfill for all eternity and probably never decompose, I would just like to say that I am sorry.

Kind of.

I do care about the planet. I fill up two large recycling bins on a weekly basis, I use CFL light bulbs all over the house, I unplug unnecessary things, and I try to choose paper over plastic when possible.

But it’s just one teensy-weensy, little Matchbox car.

What prompted me to throw away said Matchbox car? Well, after the 428th time stepping on one of these cars, I had enough.

I. had. enough.

I looked at the bottom of my bare foot and saw a red, painful mark that resembled a tiny little tailpipe and fender, and that was it. I threw away the offending car immediately.

Remorse didn’t really set in until after the garbage truck claimed it a few days later and I started to think about environmental impact, but what can a gal do?

That Matchbox car had it coming.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mother's Little Helper

Yesterday was Mother’s Day, and Henry decided that he didn’t want me to lift a finger. So he and my other two boys cleaned the house top to bottom, filled and emptied the dishwasher, did all the laundry…wait…I can’t even finish this sentence without laughing, so I’ll stop there.

No, Henry decided that he didn’t want me to do anything too strenuous, so he found the Sunday circulars, and he decided that his job would be to clip coupons for me. Phew. That really took a load off me. You know, I was just thinking how the most difficult job around this house is the coupon-clipping. I can’t tell you how many times I risk serious injury just to clip coupons for this family.

I would have preferred that he chose something like filling or emptying the dishwasher for me, but it was a nice gesture, and beggars can't be choosers. I shouldn't turn down even the littlest amount of help, no matter how it comes.

I guess I would call myself a “recreational coupon-clipper” because I love a good bargain, but I am not that skilled in the art of coupon deals. I always watch “Oprah” or some other show when they feature women who can whittle an $872.00 grocery bill down to $10.17, but I know that I am not, nor will I ever be, that woman. I am just proud of myself when I can reduce my grocery bill by a few bucks.

So yesterday morning, Henry pulled the coupon circulars from the Sunday paper, spread them out on the kitchen table and went to work. (Of course by the time he was done, there were so many clippings all over the table and floor that I had to clean them up myself, which actually made more work for me, but he was really trying to help, so I didn’t say anything negative.) I also didn’t tell him which coupons to clip because he wanted to decide that himself. He put them into two piles: a “Mommy” pile and a “Daddy” pile. I’m not sure why he did that, because Daddy doesn’t give a hoot about coupons, and thinks they’re a waste of time. But I digress.

When he came to me with the “Mommy” pile, it included coupons for random things like mustard, cake mix, and cereal. But the “Daddy” pile was quite interesting.

At the top of the “Daddy” pile was a coupon for this:

Henry was especially excited about this coupon. He said, “Mom, this is underwear for Daddy! It’s two dollars off!” Well...I guess you could call it “underwear”, (and I’m sure the advertisement associated with it called it “underwear”, since Henry must have clipped it for a reason) but big brother Charlie quickly informed him that it is not underwear. He told Henry that this coupon is for “diapers for Daddies who poop their pants.”

And thankfully, our Daddy doesn’t do that.


Henry’s little face was so crestfallen because he thought he was really helping me out on this one, and I didn’t want him to be embarrassed or discouraged, so I made a few jokes about poopy pants at the expense of Daddy (who is a great sport, by the way) and Henry was okay.

Then the next two coupons in the pile were these:

First of all, look at the cutting skills on these two coupons. So precise.

Secondly, um…KY?

Bill and I literally had to choke back our laughter. I asked Henry why he clipped these coupons, and he told me it was because “it was hair gel for Daddy."

Yeah…I kind of just let it go at that.

I looked at Bill and said, “I just figured out what I’m going to write about in my next blog entry.”

Just when I thought I was stumped on ideas, turns out I’m not stumped.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

I wanted to dedicate today’s blog entry to mothers. I have said before that Mother’s Day is my favorite holiday of the whole year (with Christmas running a very close second). Maybe it’s the Spring-y time of year in which Mother’s Day falls, or maybe it’s just the extra love and attention that I get from Bill and the kids. Whatever it is, I love it.

I am a lucky woman. I have four wonderful children and a husband that is truly my partner and best friend in this life.

But this blog entry is not about me.

I want to recognize the fact that I am lucky to know many amazing mothers of all ages, and from all walks of life. I know so many Mothers who are heroes to their families, heroes to their community and heroes to their friends.

I have had quite a few women tell me that I must be an expert at motherhood because I have four children. As flattering as that is, nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, I do know a few things, but mothering is not a topic that I think anyone can master. It’s continually a learning experience, and just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, you realize you don’t. Conventional wisdom says that when you learn, you grow. In that case, I am growing every day because I learn something new about this job every day. My teachers are my children, and my teachers are great mothers that I know.

Perfection is unattainable in this line of work, and if you seek that, then try another job. Perseverance is needed, since most of the mothers I know have those days when we think we just want to throw in the towel and give up. But thankfully, we don't.

Almost anybody can have four children, or 8 children, or even 14 children. But quantity doesn’t matter. Quality is what matters. Whether you have one child, or 14 children, it’s about raising them right, not giving up on them, and being a role model that they want to emulate.

So many mothers inspire me.

I know a mom who is a very good friend of my sister. She was diagnosed with Breast Cancer (Invasive Ductal Carcinoma) last year at the age of 34. However, instead of feeling sorry for herself, she endured surgeries and chemo treatments while raising three young children with grace, humor and perseverance. A few weeks after finishing chemo, she and a large group of women (my big sis included) walked 60 miles in the Breast Cancer 3-day Walk. She is now cancer-free and an amazing inspiration to all.

I know a mom who was recently pregnant with her fourth baby. She went to her routine doctor appointment at 17 weeks, and during an ultrasound discovered that there was no heart beat. She was completely devastated as her doctor said that she would have to return to the hospital in two days to deliver her baby. As she went to the hospital with her husband, she reluctantly reported to the labor and delivery floor. She was witnessing happy women about deliver healthy babies, and here she was, about to deliver her child that she would never know. After a full day of induced labor, she delivered a baby boy. She and her husband named him and held him. Their sweet little baby looked perfect, and fit in the palms of their hands. Later in the day, she heard a new baby crying out for the first time. Amazingly, do you know what she said when she recounted the story for me? She said, “I felt happy for that mom. It’s an amazing moment when a baby is born.” I cried when she told me this, because what an unselfish thought that is! This mom constantly inspires me with her strength, and I hope I can be as good of a friend to her as she has always been to me. She continues to be an involved, caring mom to her other three children.

I know a mom who is in the hospital at this very moment recovery from a successful surgery on her colon and intestine. She has a painful, sometimes debilitating gastrointestinal disease. However, in the eight years that I have known this mom, I have never heard her complain or feel sorry for herself. Sure, she laments that fact that dairy is mostly off-limits, and she misses cheese on her pizza. However, despite the fact that she has to have infusions, among other inconveniences, she takes excellent care of her family, and has a truly sunny disposition.

I know a mom that has grown children who are out of her home and scattered in different states. But despite this fact, she will drop anything at anytime to be there for them if they need her. She once left her home at two o’clock in the morning, and drove 300 miles to be with her daughter who was in the hospital with a sick baby. This is only one of many instances in which she has shown her love and dedication to all of her children, no matter the circumstance.

I know a mom who was pregnant with her first baby. She had complications in the middle of her pregnancy, and doctors advised her to abort the baby for her health. The baby had stopped growing inside her, and doctors told her the baby would never survive, and if it did, it would be severely mentally challenged. However, despite this grim diagnosis, she and her husband chose to keep the baby, and as a result, her son was born at 26 weeks weighing less than a pound. He was so small that his father's wedding ring fit over his foot, and slid up to his thigh. This mom almost died in childbirth as well. Fast forward 12 years, and mother and son are healthy and active. The son is a kid in a regular classroom with many friends and a great life. Doctors don’t always know everything. Sometimes a mother’s instinct can be more powerful.

I know a mom who has four children, but still manages to run marathons. What a great example she is to her kids of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, even though life is busy, and other things could easily get in the way.

I know a mom who has two little boys, and is struggling with the toddler years. She recently sent me an email asking for advice about boys and I hope I was able to help her. I hope she knows that instead of feeling like a failure, she should be proud of herself. It takes a lot of courage to reach out to other mothers when we need help or advice, and she did it. When we put aside feelings of embarrassment for the good of our children, we show that we are not going to give up, and we want to do what is best.

I know a mom (actually several moms) who volunteers at her children’s school. She leads a very busy life, and meetings and fundraisers are sometimes the last things she wants to attend, but she does it anyway. She does it to not only be an example to her children about the importance of volunteering for worthy causes, but to show her children that she cares enough about their school to make it the best it can be.

I know a mom who is pregnant with her first baby after trying for almost two years to get pregnant. Her enthusiasm about her pregnancy is infectious. All pregnancies are something to be thrilled about; however, when you helplessly watch a friend or loved one struggle with infertility for months or even years, the excitement is that much sweeter.

I know a mom who is raising a special-needs child. She is a great advocate for her child, and does not need or want the pity of others who try and feel sorry for her and her situation. She loves her child like she loves all her children: with her whole heart. She sees only love when she looks at him, instead of his disabilities.

The last mom I want to recognize is a mom I don’t know. I never officially met her, but she made an impact on me, and I think of her frequently. A few months ago, my sister and I took our children to the the play place at our local mall. I saw a very pregnant mom holding a little baby, and she had another toddler in tow. I noticed her because superficially, I thought her maternity jeans and top were cute. But as I sat there with my sister watching our kids, I overheard this pregnant women talking to her friend. She was pointing to her breast and I heard the word “cancer”. My heart dropped. Surely, this vibrant, young, pregnant mother did not have cancer! I must have heard it wrong! No, I did not. I heard her tell her friend very matter-of-factly that they were going to deliver her baby at 35 weeks so that she could start her chemo treatments. She was not complaining, (although I wouldn’t have blamed her) nor was she telling her story in a way to seek pity. It was an unbelievable conversation that I shouldn’t have been hearing. But this mom and her situation have stuck with me. She is an extraordinary example of strength. I often wonder how she is doing. I wonder if she has delivered her baby. I wonder how her chemo is going. I wonder what it’s like to be simultaneously sleep-deprived from having a newborn and two other children, and nauseous from her chemo treatments. I wonder if her kids know how brave she is. I wonder if she is surrounded by lots of friends and family who will help her in any way she needs. Somehow I think she is.

I wish I could give a shout-out to each and every amazing mother I know, but fortunately, there are just too many of you to count.You inspire me with your insights, advice, example, and most importantly your humor.

Happy Mother's Day to you.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Hit the bullseye!

I measured my toilet bowl today.

I can check that one off the list of things I thought I would never do.

I have an average-sized toilet. It’s plain white porcelain with an average, plastic white seat. You’d probably find a similar one in many American homes.

If you lift up the toilet seat, the oval-shaped bowl measures 14 inches in length by 11 inches in width. Again, I’m assuming it’s very average.

However, something is wrong. I must need bigger toilets in my home, because my boys consistently miss the bowl.

What, you may ask, made me want to measure my toilet bowl? Well, when I went in the bathroom this afternoon, I went in wearing two white socks on my feet. When I came out of the bathroom a few moments later, one sock had turned a dark shade of yellow in the toe area. Yuck.

I just don’t get it. Boys are able to steer that body part the direction they want it to, yet they can’t hit a target that is 14 inches by 11 inches? Really? There's even a round hole in the bottom of the toilet that's like a bullseye. Still can't hit that?

When I went to get some paper towels and the bleach cleaner to clean up the floor, as usual I noticed that there was urine caked around the base of the toilet. Can I get another “yuck”?

Apparently a company has caught on to the phenomenon of men and boys peeing on the floor because they have invented a triangle-shaped mop that is perfect for getting in that particular crevice at the base of the toilet. Genius.

When I say that peeing on the floor is a phenomenon, I do not joke. Someone has even invented little dissolvable foam pieces that you can drop in the toilet when you are toilet training a boy. Just call it target practice. Personally I think they are a waste of money. Cheerios can serve the same purpose.

However, I am not currently potty-training a boy. I have started to potty-train Annabel, but I know that she is not the floor-peeing culprit. Anatomy would make that a little difficult. I guess I could blame the seven other males that were at my house for Charlie’s First Communion party this past weekend, but the toilets and bathroom floors would have looked like that party or no party. My little guys are to blame.

About a month ago, one of my boys was sick. He was sleeping on and off throughout the day, and he fell asleep on the couch in the family room. At some point during his long nap, he stood up, walked into the kitchen, pushed aside a barstool, and thinking it was a toilet, peed all over the floor.

I tried to stop him, but since he was half asleep he didn’t hear me. I didn’t want to move him to the bathroom and have him pee all over the carpets while walking him there, so I just let him finish up at the barstool aka "toilet".

As I mopped the floor, I realized that boys just don’t care about things like aim, and actually getting their “business” in the proper place. They just want to empty their bladders, and that’s it.

I think I am going to try and teach them a lesson by making them clean it up on their own. Perhaps it will influence them to try and hit the target next time.

One can only hope.