Monthly Archives: November 2012

Things That Make You Go Hmmm…

What exactly is supposed to be dandy here? The cup? The drinker? The beverage?

Makes you wonder.

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Adventures in Parenting

I know, I know. So many moms these days blog about their kids and how adorable they are. Mine are too. Of course. But there are times, being a boymom, where situations arise in which my loving spouse and I just look at each other and think WTH??! Honestly. It doesn’t help that, in addition to their stinkin’ cuteness, both of my guys are incredibly smart. Off the charts. Spouse and I realized this early on, also with the realization that – as they get older – we’re screwed. One of the reasons we stopped at two. Our usual response, when asked if we’d like to try again for a girl, is ‘Are you kidding??‘ Now I love my guys, but believe me when I say – lovingly – that we are blessed enough.

A few years ago, my mom (after she stopped laughing and wiped away the tears running down her face from the hilarity of the story I’d just told) commented that I should write a book. Because you just can’t make this stuff up. Well, I haven’t written that book – yet –  because I figure that they haven’t produced their best material – yet. But I have started a list. And I thought today that I would share some of those stellar parenting moments with you.

Case 1: The Friday night the boys decided to save time and take one shower. Yeah, I know – that’s a loaded gun. But I caved. Until I heard the screaming laughter coming from the bathroom. I walked in on the middle of their contest – to see who could make the bigger butt print on the shower door. That’s my new Friday night, folks. I know you’re jealous.

Case 2: The Christmas both guys got toy light sabers (retractable, of course) and had a Jedi war in the living room. I went to my room to read a book. A few minutes later, the boys came in – with the light sabers hanging from the front of their pants – in the middle. Honestly, you have to get the mental picture. As I picked myself up off the floor laughing R said, “What? This is where Jedi keep their light sabers when they’re not using them.”

Case 3: The summer when the spouse and I were totally engrossed in reading The Deathly Hallows. Boys were playing in their rooms. It got quiet. Too quiet. We knew we should go check on them but had to finish the chapter. Upon entering V’s room we found – and I still cringe at this – that they had decided to create a snowstorm with baby powder. I’m still cleaning it out of the grooves in his laundry hamper – six years later.

Case 4: Last Sunday. Church. Boys rebelled against kids’ service and were sitting with us. They got a bit antsy so I used my mom’s trick of letting them draw on the church bulletin. Never again. R’s masterpiece was in the New Member photo insert – he’d added horns, fangs, a goatee and a cape to one poor young man. Back to kids’ service on Sunday.

Case 5: 4th grade science. The mealworm unit – which is why I never taught science. They’re like big maggoty grubs. At the end of the unit, R’s teacher ‘let’ every kid bring home their mealworm. Ours was named John. Little did I know that John would turn into a gross black beetle. And R loves him, so there’s no ‘cleaning’ and accidentally disposing of him.

Case 6: One of my all-time favorites, and the one I’m saving for rehearsal dinner stories someday. About five years ago. Driving. Smackdown ensued in the back seat – so loud and violent that I finally had enough. Turns out the boys were fighting over a book. I whipped the car over to the shoulder, jammed on the brakes, turned around, held out my hand and demanded, ‘Give it to me. NOW.‘ Yanked the book away from them, turned around, and looked down to see what on earth was causing so much violence.

The title of the book?

Sharing and Caring with Elmo. Like I said, you can’t make this stuff up.

And I thought my life would be boring once I had kids. Hmmm…

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I’ve been in a bit of a funk this weekend. Why? Basically because of people, places and things. Narrows it down, doesn’t it? Yeah, I thought so. Anyhoo, I need a break from my head, so I went flipping through my lunchtime journal and found – from a couple of weeks ago – some lunchtime people watching.

Remember, I work across the street from, and often lunch in, a park. On this one particular occasion I decided, on a whim, to jot down everyone and everything I saw and heard. Here’s my list:

One of the Girls Down The Hall strutting by in her Halloween tights (yes, really) with a cappuccino.

A hipster-ish 20-something dude wandering through the park, stopping occasionally to gather ‘plant samples.’ Not sure what they were, but he was pretty proud of his bouquet after about ten minutes.

Two city-casual women having coffee. You know the type. The ones who look like they roll out of bed effortlessly-put-together.

Generic Business Guy With Bluetooth.

An uptight dude, animatedly having a phone conversation in a foreign language. Not sure what it was about, but the volume kept escalating.

Hipster Dude #2 With Starbucks and Bottled Pepsi

Career Chick With Kindle

A group of business people having a lunch meeting: Laptops in the Park. Sounds like a composition- or a painting.

Ambient noises: airplanes, traffic, chitchat, lawn mowing.

And all of this in less than twenty minutes! Not the most exciting, but it’s getting me out of my head at the moment, and that’s a good thing.

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Shout Out to Phil!

One of the things I miss about teaching is getting the chance to meet authors, hear them speak to kiddoes and pick up some writing tips of my own. I saw earlier on Facebook that one of my faves is speaking today at my former school. Not just speaking to, but actually getting down and dirty with the kids and their writing. I’m jealous.

I’ve just gotta say it – Phil Bildner is the coolest! See, I taught writing for many years. And I know how hard it is to get at those awesome ideas, pull them out of a kid’s head, and get them down on paper. There’s always one little guy or girl that has fab ideas, writes three sentences and says, “I’m done!” But they’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg.

Same thing with reading. Some kids just don’t like to read. Sure, they do it – reluctantly – if they have to, but they don’t like it. That hurts my soul as a reader. I’ve always wanted every kid to get my love of reading. But many just don’t.

Phil taps into that. His energy, enthusiasm, and just over-the-top cool factor instantly connect with kids – and grownups too. I’ve never seen a room full of over 100 eight year olds sit motionless for an hour, hanging on an adult’s every word.

That is, until I met Phil Bildner.

If you’ve not heard of him or read his stuff, PLEASE check him out here. As a lifelong sports nut, former teacher and history buff – his books hook kids (especially boys) into reading before they even know what happened. And it’s awesome to see. My boys both got autographed books from Phil last year – with a cool personal message in addition to just a signature, mind you – and I’m amazed how they treasure those books. Even my little guy – who likes to think that he’s just too cool for school – will always choose his copy of Shoeless Joe and Black Betsy to take on trips because he’s afraid that something will happen to it if he leaves it at home. Seriously. And I’ve found that book tucked carefully under his pillow after he falls asleep at night.

Why? Because, as my son says, Phil Bildner is cool. And to a seven (almost eight) year old, that makes all the difference.

Check him out! I guarantee you (and your kids, if you have them) will be inspired by the energy and love for the craft you find in Phil’s work. You won’t regret it!

And yes, if you’ve seen his videos on his web site – he really is that cool in person!

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Filed under Children's Authors, inspiration, Phil Bildner, Reading, Teaching, writing

Many Partings

“I’ve heard it said
That people come into our lives
For a reason, bringing something we must learn,
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them,
And we help them in return.”

— ‘Wicked’

Ok, so I’m stealing a title from Tolkein today. Not exactly proud but it fits. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about people and relationships. Lots and lots of thinking. See, it’s coming up on a year – tomorrow, in fact – since a lot of people that I considered close friends disappeared from my life. That was a hard life lesson to learn – the fact that just because you consider someone a close friend doesn’t necessarily mean that they are one. Or that they feel the same way.

My naive little self just never realized that. And it was hard. And hurt a lot. Still does. A dream the other night about one of these people brought it all back, so that’s where my brain has fixated. Lots of introspection, and most of it not fun.

But then I have to look at all of the new, and positive, influences and individuals who’ve crossed my path since then. So many. Connections and reconnections who have helped me to grow more than I ever thought possible. I’ve learned so much about myself and my priorities that I can’t write it off as coincidence.

Ok, now I’m waxing sentimental. But you know what? I don’t believe in coincidence anymore. There is a grand plan. And I’ve learned to accept and welcome the fact that I don’t know what it is. All I can do is take the next step on my path. And that’s a good thing.

So I guess my question is, why are relationships so transient? Why do people drift in and out of our lives with such ease these days? Remember when you were a kid and you swore that you’d be Best Friends Forever? It seemed so normal and you never questioned that it would be that way.

Life doesn’t work that way, does it?

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Filed under friendships, Growth, life lessons, Relationships, Role Models

Just Stop!

Apparently this was the message my body sent to me yesterday. Which was inconvenient. And unfortunate.

See, we basically live a normal lifestyle. You know, the one where people work 8-5 (or in my case 9-6) and the kids go to school. So weekends are kind of a big deal. Cleaning house, errands, family time, church – it all has to fit into the two days between Friday and Monday. Unlike those people who live an alternative lifestyle where they can do their ‘weekend stuff’ anytime. Our time is limited.

Back to the weekend. Saturday was on schedule: cleaning, time with the kiddoes, committee meeting for me, yardwork for Lance, lunch and Aggie game. I actually took a nap! Got ready for date night, dinner and… Kid number two hit the wall. Tears, sobs. Big brother begged us not to go out and not to take the kids to parents night out at the gym.

We went anyway. Bond movie was pretty good – not great, but Daniel Craig was nice to look at, as always 🙂

The result? Kids slept until 10:30 yesterday. So no church. You know the saying about not waking a sleeping baby? Amplify that for my guys. And by 10:30 I was just about done. Spent some time hanging with them and had to rest just after 11.

That’s when the body said Stop. Fam tried to get me up just after 3 to run errands. Fail. It was nearly six before I was coherent. And then I planned to get all my stuff done when the kids were in bed. Fail again. I was asleep by then and didn’t wake up until my alarm this morning.

I have NEVER spent an entire day in bed when I wasn’t sick. Ever. So what gives? The only thing I can think of – besides the realization that I hadn’t taken my meds since Friday – was that my body was just done. Done. And told me to stop and rest.

So if that’s what I needed, why do I feel so guilty??

And providentially, this link came to my inbox just this morning:

Who knew?

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Filed under Family time, Sleep deprivation, Weekends, working moms

Spell Check!!

OMG!! I just finished catching up on a couple of my favorite blogs, and I’ve got two words for you.

Spell check.

Come on, people!!

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The Girls Down the Hall

I’m in a shopping moratorium. Yep, on a budget and sticking trying my darndest to stick to it. The holidays are coming, boys are getting older, house needs maintenance – you name it. I’m really trying.

But I’ve got a problem. The Girls down the hall.

See, our office dress code is officially Business Professional. But it could more accurately be termed Ultra-Conservative Business Professional. Meaning closed-toe shoes, skirts a maximum of three inches above the knee (the official measurement from the employee handbook), common-sense necklines, muted colors, etc. etc. etc. And that’s fine with me. Really. But when I started here I had to do some serious shopping. My fairly-dressy-for-an-elementary-school-teacher wardrobe just wasn’t going to cut it. So I shopped. And, I must say, managed to come up with a good solid Business Professional foundation.

Then I saw the Girls down the hall. For a split second, I was envious enough to want to work in their office – they seemed like a fun bunch. But after a few days’ observations, I realized something.

I don’t fit the job description. They do.

What job description? The list of qualifications that includes a height of at least 5’10”, long shiny flowing Taylor Swift-esque hair, a model size 00 figure and a perfect hand at applying the latest cosmetic trends. Seriously. They all fit the mold. I don’t. Enough so that I get the feeling of looking like I just rolled out of bed (even though I spend at least an hour on myself every morning) if I run into one of them in the elevator.

How does this relate to my current shopping drought? Well, everything that I’ve seen lately in the shops (that I thought I had to have) doesn’t fit the office dress code. But it sure fits theirs. Although I have had to remind myself a few times that, just because something comes in my size doesn’t mean I should wear it – at least to work.


Seriously Sky-High stilettos
The grey sequined blazer
Brightly colored animal prints
Skinny jeans
Skirts that look more like a bandeau top
Leggings – with a black sequined mini
Skirts and dresses a minimum of three inches above the knee
Tops that enhance and show off the – erm – chest area

Now admittedly, I wouldn’t have bought all of these items – or even worn them – but they are actual items seen around the building. For real. Part of me wonders what kind of brain cell fires off when deciding to wear this stuff to an office. But then it hit me.

They’re real live Clackers!

Yes, Clackers. If you’ve never seen The Devil Wears Prada, I’m sorry for you. You’re behind the learning curve here. (Completely unrelated tangent – a friend of mine from high school works for Conde Nast and I’ve been tempted, more than once, to ask her if there really are clackers in the building. But I never do. I don’t want to seem like a hick tourist.)

What does any of this have to do with anything? Not a whole lot. But it just goes to show that you can always find wild and weird stuff going on somewhere in the city…

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Filed under Budget, Careers, Fashion, shopping, Work-Friendly Attire

Election Day in the City

So it’s finally here. Election Day. At this point I’m not sure whether I’m more excited to find out the results or for it to be over. See, I usually avoid political discussions like the plague. Years ago I’d get into debates with any an everyone over the issues. Which, without fail, ended with me getting my hair in knots and popping a vein in the side of my forehead. I’ve learned since then.

What have I learned? Most people don’t really want to discuss the issues. They just want to give you their opinion (supported by whatever ‘research’ they can dig up to support their point) and have you nod your head and/or agree vigorously.

That’s not how I roll. Discussion is a two-way street. And sadly, my opinions usually differ from the demographics where I live. So I’m usually in the minority. Which explains why I just don’t discuss it any more.

One of the women at work voted today. It took her over two hours. Why? That’s a story. She actually made the news. Apparently, the voting staff in her county (she lives quite far from uptown) were encouraged to turn on the polling machines early to allow them to configure. Staff was even cautioned to do this at 6 am. But they didn’t, waiting until just before the doors opened at 7.

Result? It was like getting to the doctor for an 8:00 appointment only to wait an hour until the doc actually comes in at nine. And in a metro as big as ours, that’s a disaster. Hence our coworker making the midday news.

Yikes. One more reason that I’m looking forward to the end of all this hoopla. Yes, it’s a privilege as an American to participate in the democratic process. Yes, I consider myself patriotic. But when politics turns adults into terrible-twoish tantrum throwers, I’m out. I’ve done my time with tantrums. Twice.

The best part? Tomorrow it will be over! And if you didn’t vote, you can’t complain!

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Ten Positives

To balance out the week’s earlier post, here are ten positive things about today:

1) Fall has come to Houston! No more 90-degree days.

2) It’s the end of Daylight Savigs Time!

3) my skirt is loose on me – even with a shirt tucked in.

4) It’s Friday!

5) Tonight is fam movie night at home snuggling with my guys.

6) My presentation was a hit this morning – and the head honcho was there.

7) I was able to have honest conversations about some lingering issues – without arguing.

8) I have a good friend who will tel me the honest truth with no sugar coating. Or bias.

9) I get some one-on-one time with the little guys tomorrow.


10) Friday eve traffic is light!!


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