Monday, January 31, 2011

When all else fails, bring on a dance party.

It is January.


It is cold.

How cold?

It doesn't even matter what the number is anymore. It is just C-to-the-O-to-the-L-to-the-D.

Chill you to the bone cold.

The sun has been playing hide-and-seek as of late.

Mostly, it hides and I seek it.

And? It is Monday.

My kids were especially difficult to wake this morning. After all, can you really blame them? Like I said, it is Monday. It is still January. It is cold. There is only indoor recess to look forward to at school. When they must rise out of the comfort of their warm beds, it is still dark outside. When we pull out of our driveway to leave for school, it is still dark outside.

It doesn't help matters that the news has been predicting a winter storm of Biblical proportions headed our way.

There will be ice. Lots of ice.

And snow.

And rain.

And sleet.

And more ice.

And maybe even a few locusts.

It could all happen.

I am a proud Midwestern girl who has lived here in this beautiful part of America my whole life. But as adept as I have become with winter driving, the anxiety still creeps in when the barometer drops, especially with my beloved shorties in the car.

I worry about my cherished husband driving in such conditions. I worry about my dear family and friends.

I pray for all of your safety.

And for a Snow Day.

Let's review.

It is January. It is cold. It is Monday. A winter storm is headed our way. My shorties did not want to get out of bed. I did not want to get out of bed.

By this logic, it was time for a dance party in the kitchen.

At 7:10 in the A-M.

As I was loading up backpacks with school lunches, and nagging my oh-so-tired shorties to put on their shoes and coats, my Pandora playlist, which had just been blaring a wonderful, but subdued Michael Buble tune via my iPod on the speakers in the kitchen, suddenly, and quite randomly blasted out the song, "4 Minutes" by Madonna.

Pandora knew we needed a kick in the pants.

Because we danced.

I dare you to hear this song and not want to dance.

We popped it.

We locked it.

We got down.

We got back up again.

I shook what my mama gave me. They shook what I, their mama, gave them.

It was just what we needed. Then, "The Time" by the Black Eyed Peas popped up next in the Pandora queue.

Dirty bit.

We danced until it was time to leave for school.

We left the house with smiles on our faces. On a cold Monday in January, with a huge storm headed our way, that is ready to assault our streets and our highways.

I am not one to wish the days away, because as you know, days are fleeting and precious.

Except for January days.

January. It is the one month out of the year that slaps you in the face with reality. The cold, harsh, dark reality that the holidays are over, Spring is very far away, and unless you're going on a vacay to warmer climes, your pedicured toes will not be seeing a pair of cute sandals for at least 4 months.

Be gone with you now, January. Go on. Git.

Bring on February, with its red hearts, proclamations of L-O-V-E, slightly longer days, and the promise of Spring, that much closer.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Yes, YOU can be a Diva too!

My fourth child, my little girl, has a birthday coming up next Friday.

She will be four years old, and because she is my only girl, it is usually quite easy to shop for her presents. After all, in this house with three boys and all their fun, but rough and tumble boy accoutrement, a little pink and frilly and girlie is lacking and always a welcome sight. My girl and I are outnumbered 4 to 2 in this house, so we do what we can to inject a little estrogen into the mix.

Today, as I was shopping for her birthday presents, I reached the aisle with the dress-up clothing, and I stopped dead in my tracks when I happened upon this display.

The sign at the top of the display asks, "What will you be?"

As in, when you grow up, kids. When you finally break free from Mom and Dad, and burst forth into the world ready to make your mark on it.

Your choices are a builder, a chef or a diva.

A builder and a chef? Both awesome career choices. But a diva?

Yes, a diva. As a career.

I was, as the British say, gobsmacked. Of course I know these are toys. Of course I have a sense of humor and perspective. I get it. I'm an adult; therefore, I realize that it's not an actual career. It's all in good fun, right?

But why, if it's all in good fun, does it have to say, "What will you be?" as if it's a legitimate career choice?

As I stood there, my mouth was agape as I perused the display. I couldn't help but chuckle at the complete ridiculousness of it all. I was stunned that in 2011, this is what toy designers come up with for our children. Yes, I realize that impressionable little girls have been dressing up as princesses for decades, and that is about as unrealistic a career choice as any, but most girls, even little ones, know that is a fantasy. Unless you are the beautiful Kate Middleton, of course.

Why a diva? And how, exactly, does one become a diva? Are there college courses available for such a career path?

I can only imagine the course load.

Gum-smacking, Sass-talking, Seething and Slapping As An Art Form

Naming Your Diva Self: Just Add -ooki or -woww 

Reality Shows Are Right For You!

Protecting Your Hair Follicles From Your Bump-It

All Publicity is Good Publicity - Even the Bad Kind

Five Inch Stilettos and Your Health: Avoiding Bunions and Hammer Toes

Tube Dressing 101: Work It Girl. Rock It Out.

My Boyfriend Won't Wear Ed Hardy - Can This Relationship Be Saved?

Haters Are Just Jealous of You: How To Not Let It Ruin Your High Self-Esteem

In Da Club: That's Where You Can Find Me. That's Right.

It's Getting Hot in Hurrrrre, Imma Check My Tempaturrrrre: A How-To

How to Ruin Friends and Win Enemies

Anatomy of a Temper Tantrum

How To Throw Your Drink In Someone's Face: It's All In the Wrist

Study up, girls of tomorrow! And you too can achieve greatness! Diva greatness!

Also? In case you were wondering, Diva greatness comes with feathers. Lots of feathers. And purple heels. And sparkles.

The biggest problem that I have with this display is not the tackiness, but that it lacks equal opportunity for the sexes. Sure, we girls can work hard all our lives, hoping and striving to one day achieve full Diva greatness, but what about boys? Where is their equal career choice?

Toy Makers of 2011, listen up. Boys need something for which to strive.

Rhymes with koosh bag.

Get on that.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

On milestones and bathrooms.

In the day-to-day grind of parenthood, there are moments of joy. There are tears. There are frustrations. There is happiness. There are snuggles aplenty.

There is endless love.

There is endless pride.

There are milestones.

A milestone can happen when you least expect it.

One minute your baby is crawling, the next minute he toddles across the floor.

One minute your 4-year old firmly relies on her training wheels to wheel her down the sidewalk, the next minute they are off, and she flies down the street confidently and steadily on her bike, with a, "Weeeeee!!! Look at me, Mommy!!!"

One minute your 8-year old struggles and struggles to hit the baseball, and the next minute, bat meets ball with a firm CRACK as the ball whooshes through the air into the outfield.

We had a milestone at our house recently.

A big one.

My boys are growing up. They are starting to see that in this family, we help each other out.

Mom and Dad do not live to serve them and their every whim.

This past Saturday, my 10-year old and 8-year old sons, my two oldest children, took one look at the fresh blanket of snow outside and decided that it was time to play.

"Moooooomm! Can we go outside?" they called to me from downstairs. Bill was off somewhere in the house doing typical Saturday morning cleaning, and I was folding laundry.

Because the laundry never ends.

I was feeling overwhelmed. Cranky. Annoyed. Why do kids get to have all the fun?

I want to play too.

I don't know what made me suggest what I suggested. Perhaps I was just fed up. I have never made this particular request before, but there is a first time for everything.

Saturday morning was time.

I stood at the top of the stairs and looked down at my two boys. "Sure! You can go outside, but only if you clean your bathroom first. Toilet included."

It was time for some good, old-fashioned bribery. You wanna play? You gotta pay.

I braced myself for complaints. Tears. Yelling. Wailing and gnashing of teeth. Calls of, "MOOOOOM! YOU'RE SOOOO UNFAIR!!!"

But the tears? They did not fall. The yelling? Was silenced. There was no wailing. No expensive dental work was gnashed.

They looked at me and simply said, "Okay Mom. Can you show us how?"

Yes, they have jobs around here like cleaning their bedroom, the playroom, and clearing the kitchen table and wiping it down, and the occasional vacuuming, but the bathrooms?

Why that wonderful little nugget of a job belongs to yours truly. (And occasionally Bill, lest I don't give the hubs full credit.)

But mostly me.

And I hate it.

It's awful. 

The other bathrooms in our house I can deal with. But the jack-and-jill bathroom that sits in between the two bedrooms shared by my three little men? I have no words.

Actually, I take that back. I have words. But they are not pretty words.

Atrocious comes to mind.

The state of their bathroom most days of the week is just a skosh above a gas station bathroom.

Just a skosh.

"So Mom, what do we do first?" my 8-year old said as he snapped the yellow rubber gloves on his hand like a surgeon about to perform his first-ever splenectomy.

I am their Obi Wan.

"Well, first, clear all this stuff off your sink and put it in the drawers. Then, wipe all these globs of toothpaste off the sink and counters."

I stood there at watched my boys diligently scrub the sinks, and I waited for it. Because I knew it was coming. "MOM! This toothpaste is like IMPOSSIBLE to get off this sink! IMPOSSIBLE!"

You think?

Yes, I have gently used a putty knife for the job before. No, I was not about to suggest they use it, lest they scratch the surfaces.

Keep scrubbing with those washcloths, boys. And remember this golden A-HA! moment.

Toothpaste on the sinks and counters globs up and hardens and is difficult to remove.

Check yourself before you wreck yourself.

Move along, because the toilet awaits, my cherubs.

"Make sure you wipe down the whole seat AND the floor underneath," I instructed when we moved onto the throne room.

"The floor?" one of my boys asked innocently.

The floor. Of course.


They don't even realize that their floor has become an extension of the toilet.

Lovable, little, oblivious scamps.

There was triumph and joy when the job was finished.

Mostly from me.

Because I? Am a genius.

I should have taught them this forever ago.

It is now Wednesday, and the bathroom is STILL clean.

Mostly. It's not like I would eat off the floors or anything, but you get the idea.

Sweet freedom.

I am free of their bathroom.

What a milestone.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Whatever, Mega-Millions winners. Whatever.

My Wednesday morning started off with a huge shock.

Hold onto your laptops.

I did not win the Mega-Millions $355,000,000 jackpot.

Of course, I totally thought we had it in the bag.

You know, what with the odds completely being in our favor and all.

Shut up statisticians.

What? Eleventy kajillion-bazillion to one? I don't care who you are. Those are great odds.

When I awoke this morning, I flipped on the news, ready to see my numbers displayed on the screen. However, I soon learned that two people, one from Washington and one from Idaho, will split the pot.

My pot.

I demand a recount.

Or a re-draw.

Or whatever it is they call it when the numbered ping-pong balls shoot up the air-powered tube.

The lottery has shattered my dreams, y'all.

This is why Bill and I rarely buy lottery tickets. We have a policy to never buy them unless the jackpot is huge. And by "huge," we're talking in the 200 million range. Yes, we know this thinking is flawed. We are well aware that it is completely illogical. Such thinking is dumb. It's like thumbing our nose at the lottery commission with a, "Whatever. $12 million? Who needs that?"

Or, "Oh, now the jackpot is $78 million? No thanks, lottery commission. You can keep that paltry amount of coin."

Or, "The jackpot has now climbed to $137 million? Hmm. Interesting, but not interesting enough. We have no use for such chump change."

Or, "Now it's $196 million? Close, but if you think I'm going to part with a whole dollar for that amount, then you have another think coming."

But, "$225 million? Now you have Mama's attention."

And, "$355 million?!? You had me at the number 3, lottery commission. For that jackpot? I will part with $5.00. Mama's feeling loose with her money today."

The shock of not winning the Mega-Millions this morning so completely bowled me over, that I was rendered speechless and fell into a fog of depression so deep that even Regis and Kelly and their cheerful banter could not cure. After managing to pull myself up off the floor and realizing that I would not be spending the morning speaking with realtors from the island of Maui about the vacation home that Bill and I were ready to pay cold, hard, cash for thanks to our windfall, I said to myself, "Girl, snap out of it. Life is still worth living. There are many things way more exciting than winning the Mega-Millions, and it's about time you do some of them."

Which I did.

So while two very lucky Mega-Millions winners from Washington and Idaho were shouting their triumphant shouts of joy up and down the American West, I was sounding my barbaric YAWP across the rooftops and cornfields of the Midwest. (Finally a chance to reference "Dead Poets Society" in my blog!)

Because of this.

And this.

It's Word Up Wednesday, and I organized my junk drawers, y'all.

While Idaho and Washington were claiming their checks, I was immersed in junk.

I guess that winning $355 million would be fun. Kind of. But organizing junk drawers?

Now that's a party, yo.

Who's the lucky one now, Idaho and Washington?

Tag. I'm it.

No backsies.

Enjoy your piles of cash, Mega-Millions winners.

Sure, I am not $355 million richer. But my stapler has a place. So do my paper clips. And would you look at all those batteries?

Sure, I will not be going out tomorrow to buy a custom Maserati. But didn't you get the memo? I drive a sexy, black Honda Odyssey, complete with stray pieces of Goldfish crackers ground into the carpets. And do Maseratis have sliding doors, extra cargo space, and DVD players that apparently are only capable of playing movies that appeal to shorties?

I think not.

Who wants to stand on a podium and hold an over-sized check when you can stand over a junk drawer all, "So that's where my favorite makeup brush is!" and, "Oh lost earring! How I have missed you!"

I guarantee you, it's thrilling.

Simply thrilling.

Whatever, Mega-Millions winners.