Category Archives: Moms

Comedy of Errors

That’s the only way I can describe yesterday. Seriously. The office was actually closed for Presidents Day – something I didn’t realize until last Thursday, so that was a nice surprise – and the minions were off of school. The Spouse had to go in for one of those incredibly stimulating Teacher Work Days (translation – spend the day working through technology competencies online) and the three of us were home alone. So, being the Type A that I am, I attempted to plan the Perfect SAHM Day.

I was a machine. Up and moving way before my normal time, I had dusted, vacuumed, whipped through two loads of laundry and scooped the cat poop before 9:15 AM. Huzzah!! Minion #1 actually got up of his own free will AND MADE HIS OWN BREAKFAST!! Double-score! I was on a roll! Told the minions that we would head out to run some errands around 10. And get this – they were actually getting along and sharing! I settled in with a second (ok, third) cup of coffee and a book.

10 AM – piled into the car with no resistance. Granted, Minion #2 had figured out the Netflix app on my phone, so they were watching a movie – but they SHARED it and actually put the phone in the middle of the backseat so they could both see it. If you’ve got more than one kid – or grew up with siblings – you know exactly the kind of miracle that happened here. Surreal.

Stop 1 – getting the car serviced. Normally a 20-minute job.

And that’s when everything changed.

“Ma’am, there’s something that’s not working here, and we’ll need to get it replaced as soon as possible.” ** And can I just tell you how much I hate it when anyone over the age of 20 calls me ‘ma’am’??

“OK, can I just pull over now and have you take a look?”

“Well, no – see, we’re really backed up today. But you can call Corporate from here and book an appointment to come back. ASAP.”

First of all, I’m confused why they can’t schedule their own stinking appointments. But I smiled, nodded, called the 800 number and got an appointment – for 3:30 in the afternoon. Ok, so the roller rink was out. But surely there was something else fun we could substitute, right?

Stop 2 – Haircuts for Minions. I don’t make them appointments. I have NEVER made them an appointment. We always go to the same place, walk in, and walk out 30 minutes later with two fresh cuts. Hannibal Lector said it best here: “But not today…”

Apparently, since school was out, every other parent in H-town made their kid an appointment for a haircut today. At the ONE place we always go. Was told that there was ‘at least a 40-minute wait.’

WTHeck? Really? A place that cuts kids’ hair expects me to wait 40+ minutes and try to keep two BOYS entertained? On a school holiday? Seriously, they could have planned ahead and scheduled more staff. I wasn’t having it. We left – to go to the other haircut location. And it started raining. And we drove uphill, through blinding hail, both ways…

… to find that there was only a 20 minute wait there. Sigh. After all that, I was bound and determined that these kids would get their hair cut. So we waited. I gritted my teeth and smiled when the A/C blasted us into chill-blivion. I gritted my teeth harder and smiled when a woman with three kids signed in after us and got taken back first. She had an appointment.

Lesson learned, OK?? Got it! I will NEVER take my sons for haircuts without appointments on a school holiday again!

Minions were – still – surprisingly well-behaved, so we stopped and got ice cream to soothe their shorn-headed dignity. Then it was on to get Minion #1 new glasses – since he has somehow managed to break both nose pieces off of his. Don’t know when or how, but it is what it is. Quick jaunt into Vision Center, right?

On ANY OTHER DAY, yes. Presidents Day? Heck no. Two opticians. One occupied with a lady who spoke little, if no, English. So she passed the woman over to the Spanish-speaking optician. Ok, our turn, right?

Wrong. The first optician patiently waited for the second one to translate for her instead of just switching customers and helping us.  Really? I’ve worked in retail. Believe me, I’d want the harrassed-looking woman with two kids dripping ice cream on the floor (that was me, at that point) out of the store as fast as possible – and would have done anything to make it happen.

Not these opticians. No way. I held my ground. Dangit, we were there to get glasses and we weren’t leaving without ordering glasses.

Until I realized that the Spanish-speaking lady was ordering not one, but five pair of glasses. For five different people. Who weren’t there. She was nice enough to try and take their preferences for frames over the phone – while we all waited.

Stick a fork in me. I was done. Sticky drippy sugared-up minions back in car and home.

That only took three hours. Oh, and two hours later I was at it again, back to the auto shop. At least by then the Spouse was able to get the minions from me and take them home. So much for my perfect SAHM day with the kiddoes.

And the kicker?? This morning I get tears from Minion #2, who said, ‘I want to stay home with you today. We didn’t do anything fun yesterday. It was boring.’ You have to insert the 7-year-0ld whiny voice on the italics to get the full effect. Trust me.

Sigh. I agree, kid. I agree. Teachable moment – life happens.

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Filed under Houston, kids, life lessons, Moms, working moms

Back to School, Part 3

If you’ve kept up with this blog for any length of time, you may remember my posts about Secret Teacher Insights – Schooled and Schooled, Part 2. Well, with Valentine’s Day tomorrow, and this being my first V-Day out of the classroom, I’ve been thinking. Last week, someone asked me if I missed teaching. My honest answer? Sometimes. But the ability to go to the bathroom whenever I want during the work day totally outweighs any sadness at beign out of public education. Seriously. If you’ve never taught, you won’t get this one. So think about it – teachers can’t just drop everything for a bathroom break whenever. It takes planning. And time, which is something teachers have very little of. But that one simple question got me thinking about other possible topics for my book. Want a taste? Ok, here you go…

If you teach long enough, kids grow up. This one seems like a no-brainer, so hear me out. Remember how weird it was to see your teacher away from school? Like at the grocery store or a restaurant? They just didn’t look right. Especially if they were in shorts and a t-shirt. Well, that goes both ways, folks. Happened just the other day. I had to print off resumes for the day’s interviews at work, and I recognized a name. Looking closer, I realized that it was a kid I taught WAY back in the day. I ran to my boss and excitedly told her, and she asked if there was anything the Head Honcho should know before the guy came in to interview. Hmmm… Should I have told her that he was the kid who sat with his hands down his pants through my entire first official observation? That’s a tough one. Of course I told her. But I made her promise (after she picked herself up off the floor laughing) not to pass that one on to the Head Honcho. Still, it was weird to see this tall young man in a business suit come through the office. I couldn’t for the life of me erase the vision of the kid with both hands busy in his wind shorts.

Teachers hear everything that goes on at home. Case in point: the kindergartener who told me his mom would be a few minutes late picking him up from school. When I asked why, he plainly told me that it was because she needed extra time to move around. “My mommy’s having trouble bending,” the wide-eyed cherub said. “Is she OK?” I asked with concern. “Yeah, but ever since she got the ring in her belly button she has trouble bending,” the cherub replied. I kid you not. I’ve said it before – I can’t make this stuff up!

Some parents can be overly sympathetic. This is a funny one here. Just warning you. One of the schools had very strict rules about class parties. It was a newer school, and of course the administration wanted to do what they could to preserve the carpets, etc. So the rule was – at parties – that every kid had to remain seated until all of the food/drink/sugary stuff was cleaned up. Sensible, right? Not for one mommy. She rounded on me in the middle of the room and lambasted me for not allowing her sweet little daughter – who didn’t like Sprite – to get up and drink some water. For goodness sake, the mom yelled said, the poor darling was going to get dehydrated. I stood my ground. Of course, the forty other parents stood around and watched this happen.

When it was over and the mommy had stormed to the office determined to confront the principal on this one, another mom sidled up to me and whispered, “Strawberry or Apple?” My natural reaction was to look at her like WTHeck?? And I’m sure I had that ‘deer in headlights’ look of a teacher who’s just been yelled at. She was nice enough to clarify. “I can be back in five minutes. The gas station has Boone’s, and I know you need it after that. So, strawberry or apple?”

Like I said, I’m not creative enough to make this stuff up!

School nurses really can work magic. My first year teaching, I had an adorable girl named Annie in my class. Annie was the sweetest, most loving child. She always tried her best. But she was one of those that you’d just look at and think, ‘Bless her little heart.’ In southern-speak, that translates to ‘she’s just not the sharpest knife in the drawer.’

One afternoon, Annie went to the bathroom. For a really long time. In fact, she came back just as we were packing up to get on the buses to go home. And she looked panicked. She told me that she had lost her tooth. Being the new, good teacher I was, I tried to reassure her and get her a treasure box for her tooth. ‘That’s the problem,’ she sobbed, ‘I swallowed it.’ She was hysterical. I sent her to the nurse. Just as we left for the bus, Annie came back, smiling and happy with a fresh treasure box proudly held in her hand. She told me that the tooth was inside.

Huh? I marched my happy self down to the nurse after school and demanded to know what she’d done.

‘I got it out,’ the nurse told me. ‘The tooth. I got it out.’

I believed her for about ten minutes until she finally busted out laughing. Who says ‘gullible’ isn’t in the dictionary?

I’ve got many, many more tidbits here, folks. What do you think? Should I keep this up and turn it into a book? There’s millions of gems stored up in my head!

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Filed under Childhood, Education, Field Trips, life lessons, Moms, Public Education, Teachers, Teaching, Uncategorized

Suffering for Fashion

Why do I do this? Every stinkin’ time I swear that I won’t do it again, and every single time I fall back into the trap. Honestly, it must be an addiction. Maybe I need an intervention. What is this stupid mistake I keep making, you ask?

I suffer for fashion.

I can’t help it. Maybe I’m a victim of those subliminal media campaigns against women that the conspiracy theorists and feminists always decry. Maybe I’m just a glutton for punishment. Maybe I subconsciously have some weird addiction to pain. (Ok, that’s a stretch. I hate paper cuts. Much less anything that would cause me really serious physical pain.)

Whatever it is, I’m miserable today. And I’ve got no one to blame but myself. And Anthropologie. See, it’s their fault for advertising the skirt I bought put together as a cute little work outfit with gray tights and booties. It was something I would NEVER have put together on my own, but I had to do it. The new brown suede boots I found over Thanksgiving were just clamoring to get out of the box, you know.

My feet are killing me. My feet were killing me before I left the house. But I was too stubborn to give up and to lazy to change. (After all, it’s easier to grin and bear it than try an on-the-spot change on my way out the door, right?) I spent most of my commute rationalizing that I’d be OK now that I have this desk job. I mean, most of my day is spent sitting, right?

Not today. Of course not. Two new guys starting today (one a complete surprise) and a major graphic design project mean that I’m spending my time running around the office. Yes, running. The deadlines are that tight. At this rate I’ll be lucky not to end up with a stress fracture by noon. And why? Because I was so danged determined to be just a bit fashionable. Wonder if I could claim Worker’s Comp on that one? Somehow I doubt it.

For a person who likes to think that appearances don’t matter all that much, I’m embarrassed that I fell into the trap. I’d rather think that my actions and performance are more important. But I’m also enough of a girl to drool over InStyle every month too. But really – women should unite and protest the platform shoe epidemic before someone loses a limb.

Why is this? Why are otherwise smart, independent women so willing to suffer for fashion’s sake? Why am I cringing at my throbbing feet just so I can feel stylish? Maybe it’s a midlife thing. I’ve been feeling old, I want to look reasonably young, so I’m gonna torture my poor feet? It sounds even more stupid as I’m rereading this. Seriously.

Whatever. I’m resigned to a day of sore feet. But is that going to make me think twice next time? Probably not. But hey – it will help the budget. I mean, with my dogs barking like this there’s no WAY I’m going out to run the errands I’d planned for lunch. Uh uh. Not. At. All.

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Filed under Fashion, Moms, Platforms, Women, working moms

The Mom Brain

I have to give kudos to my friend Karen for the idea for this post. See, last week on Facebook she posted her frustration about trying to go to the bank and not being able to find it. Turns out she was a block away and finally wondered if it was early Alzheimer’s or just the Mom Brain. Thanks, lady! You’re my inspiration today!

Sweetie, it’s the Mom Brain. We all get it sooner or later. It’s inevitable. The Mom Brain is the reason I have the ‘Take Me to My Car’ app on my phone. Yes, there really is one. Check it out. But I’m notorious for having so much on my mind at any given moment that my brain just kicks out the location of my car in any parking lot. Seriously. And since I don’t drink I can’t blame it on alcohol. It just is what it is. The Olympic feat of trying to go to the grocery store, Walmart, Target, or anywhere else with kids – with or without stroller, etc. – has become too much and my brain can’t handle it all. So it decides to ‘forget’ what it considers unimportant. Usually the location of my car. And that’s a problem when you’re leaving the store with cart, bags and minions in tow – usually when they’re arguing or whining. A quick exit would be ideal.

The kicker? I used to have a pretty good memory. Really. Almost photographic. The Spouse has a freakishly accurate memory, so that always made disagreements more interesting. We should have sold ringside tickets. “You left the toilet seat up exactly seventeen times last month!” ‘No, actually it was fifteen, and the first three of those were actually the last day of last month.’ You think I’m kidding? I’ve said it before – I can’t make this stuff up. Really.

Anyhoo, growing the minions must have sucked up more than a few brain cells along the way. My ability to remember my to-do list for the day fell apart. Granted, I always write down my to-do list – just because I’m Type A enough to enjoy crossing things off the list – but the minions moved my cheese and there was suddenly much more to keep track of. Need diapers, stat. Add it to the list. Only I’d tell myself that I’d add it to the list as soon as I finished XXX (insert random housekeeping, work-related or kid-rearing task here). Guess what? That’s right, folks. I would forget to add it to the list. I tried telling the Spouse, ‘Remind me to add XX to the list.’ Guess what? I would forget that he reminded me, or he’d choose a really bad time for his reminder. Men – choosing the ONE time your wife/girlfriend is in the shower for more than five minutes at a stretch (which is unheard of with babies) is probably NOT the best time for a memory check. She’s not listening to you. Or anyone. No offense, guys. Just the facts.
My next step? I resorted to carrying post-it’s with me. So I could write down those random to-dos whenever they hit me. Guess what? I STARTED FORGETTING WHERE I PUT THE FREAKING POST-ITS AFTER I WROTE ON THEM!!

And now, ten years after minion #1 was born, the Mom Brain is getting worse. I could forget a conversation we had ten minutes ago. Why? Not because I wasn’t listening, but because my stinking’ brain is just so used to thinking about a million things a mile a minute that there’s not enough room in there. Something’s got to go. I really feel for my kids in about ten years. They’ll probably have to tattoo a map of the house on my arm so I can find the bathroom.

So no, Karen – it’s not early Alzheimer’s. Unless we’ve both got it. What about you all? What are your symptoms? What’s the cure for the Mom Brain??

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Filed under Mom Brain, Moms, Multitasking, Parenting, working moms

Weekend Update

I’m baaack! Relaxed, refreshed and recharged. Oh, and actually appreciating my family. Or rather, I’m not so freaking exhausted that appreciation is out of my vocabulary. Here’s the scoop…

Friday. Finished work. Headed into town for my retreat, and hit… Traffic. Bad traffic. I guess everyone in H-town had Big Friday Night Plans, because they were ALL on the highway. Determined not to let it ruin my mood, I decided to play CD surprise. Never heard of it? Not surprised, considering I made it up Friday night while stuck in traffic on the highway. How do you play? Easy. Reach over (in the dark, while keeping your eyes on the road), grab a CD out of your CD wallet, and insert. Anticipate what it’s going to be. Listen. Hey, I figured it would pass the time, and since I really DO have interesting CD’s in the car I figured it was a win.

Fail. First CD – Kidz Bop. Veto. Second CD – some guy playing hammer dulcimer EZ listening hits. A holdover from my elementary teaching days. Veto. Third – Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Music Memory from days gone by. Veto. Fourth – Diana Krall live in Paris. Ok, that one was doable.

Finally navigated the traffic and checked into my sweet digs. I found a great in-town deal at an extended stay place, which meant that I had a full kitchen, sectional couch, desk and separate sleeping nook. Oh, and a walk-in closet. That’s crucial for a two night stay, right? Got situated, surfed the web and started A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. How is it I never had to read this for school? It’s amazing. But if I’d had to read it for school I probably wouldn’t have liked it anyway. Most of the time when I’m told I have to read a certain book I don’t like it. It’s the passive/agressive rebellious side of me. Fine. I’ll read it. But I won’t LIKE it. Anyway, I finally made myself put the book down and sleep.

Saturday morning? It’s a good thing I’ve got priorities. I mean, if I hadn’t checked Facebook before eating breakfast and showering, I’d have missed the message about my folk dance session. “A slight mistake has been made. The original start time of 9:30 posted here was incorrect. Today’s workshop will begin at 8:30.” Good thing it was only 7:30 when I decided to Facebook.

Day of folk dancing. Skipped the fitness room workout due to the time change, but hey – six solid hours of folk dancing HAS to count as exercise, right? I mean, I did actually break a sweat once or twice and it was cold in the room. And I realized how much I miss that part of my musician life. The sense of community and collaborative music making with a group of talented people. And I’ve always loved dancing. If I’d actually been born with the right body type I probably would have kept up with it past sixth grade. But hey – at this point it’s a fun hobby. Did you get that? A hobby! Me!

Lunch on my own at a group of swanky little shops across the street. Leftover time and an Anthropologie gift card. Darn. What was I to do? Yep – found ONE – sweater that I loved. There was ONE left. In my size. And my favorite color. On sale. Score!!

More folk dancing, then a trip to the HUGE Half Price Books I’d spotted near the hotel. Huge. And, for some reason, much cheaper than the HPB near my house. Hmmm. Cheaper in town than the ‘burbs? Shocker. I love wandering in used book stores. The musty smell of old bindings and slightly mildewed dusty paper is like a drug. So addictive. They should bottle that and sell it for Plug Ins. Seriously. I’d be all over that. And I managed to score a biography of Alan Lomax – one of the songcatching family that traveled Appalachia and recorded TONS of American folk songs back in the day. You can access the recordings for free here. It was a message. This is a hobby that needs pursuit. Message received.

Back to the hotel. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Couldn’t. Put. It. Down. Hours of uninterrupted reading? Check. Intersperse journal writing? Check. Inspiration? Check and check. Right before a massive migraine sidetracked my entire plan.

Skip ahead a few hours – too much Excedrin and caffeine left me wide awake, so I pulled up the Netflix queue and started Sweet Land. An indie flick that the Spouse wouldn’t have lasted ten minutes into, it’s full of lovely shots of Minnesota wheat fields, prairie and 1920’s postwar issues. It’s easy to forget that those of us with German ancestry faced discrimination during and after WWI. Anyhoo, yes, this could be looked at as a chick flick since there was a love story. But the messages of humanity sticking together and hardworking people with their innate connection to the land can’t be ignored either.

More journaling and reading this morning, then back home. Fam was happy. Apparently I was missed. Rested, recharged and appreciated? Priceless.

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Filed under Folk Music, inspiration, Journaling, Moms, Reading, working moms, writing

Inspiration, STAT!

So you’d think, seeing that I’m headed for some serious reading/writing/reflection time this weekend, that I’d be chock-full of topics and ideas to write about. Know what? I have zero. Absolutely zero. Well, not absolutely zero. Trouble is that the topics I’d really like to vent discuss are way too personal for a blog. As in, specific people and situations, We’re talking names, folks! And that’s just not appropriate for this blog. It would be one thing if I wanted to talk about (insert celebrity name here) or the latest episode of Downton Abbey. Which I haven’t seen yet, by the way, but I HAVE heard enough spoilers to get the gist of what happened. Not happy about that.

But I digress. I’m getting really irritated that I’ve got all of this time coming up over the next couple of days but no inspiration. I mean, almost two days? To myself? That’s a gold mine to this working mom. You’d think I could at least write the Next Great Novel or something! That’s a joke, folks – I have trouble writing fiction. Funny, since when I was younger that’s pretty much all that I wrote. My problem is that I get an idea for fiction but get bogged down in the actual writing. As in, I know the basic plot outline and have good ideas for specific events – along with really good descriptions in my head. But it all tries to explode onto the page like a big glop of a verbal explosion. When my youngest minion gets his stream-of-consciousness talking going (and he’s been known to keep going for up to 45 minutes at a stretch) we call it Verbal Diarrhea at our house. Same basic concept with me and fiction.
If I were smart, I’d actually follow the writing process and do an outline first. But I’ve always hated outlines. Why waste time organizing ideas when you could just write them? See my problem? It’s that kind of ‘Ready, Fire, Aim’ approach that’s keeping me from writing fiction.
And, like I said, my nonfiction ideas are way too specific – and, at the moment too positively negative – to even think about posting.
So what should I do folks?? Ima be hoppin’ mad if I spend the weekend staring at a blank page!

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Filed under Blogging, inspiration, Moms, Self time, writing

It’s Time for Me

So I’ve gotta be honest here – I’ve been a basket case lately. Between the oldest minion’s Big Sleepover (and the kid that got sick all over my carpet), the Big Test at work and life in general, I’m fried.

What could I possibly do about it? I’ll tell you. This weekend I’m going on a Me Retreat. That’s right. A Me Retreat. I need to celebrate my test and recharge. After work today I’m heading into town and checking my happy little self into a hotel for the weekend. Actually, there’s some professional development involved just in case I decide to ever go back to Music Teacher Land again, but that’s tomorrow and it’s a folk dancing workshop. So I really can’t call a day of folk dancing work. And I’ve got a pile of books to read, my workout clothes, some pocket change for shopping and a brand new journal.

Time for reflection and relaxation. Just me, myself and I. If that sounds incredibly boring to you – you must not be a mom. Catching up with friends – nope. I’m enough of an introvert that I actually NEED time alone to recharge my batteries in order to be nice around people. If you don’t get that, then you definitely need to read Quiet. And given my brain’s recent trend towards positive negativity, I know I’m in the red. So recharging time for me actually benefits mankind as a whole. Haha. I’m joking, but only halfway. Seriously – the world is a better place if I’m not snarking on everything and everyone I see. So some reflection is in order – I need to figure out where all of this hostility is coming from. Not sure it’s just because I’m tired.

Of course, the minions were extra-clingy this morning before school. They actually got up – of their own free will – just after five AM. Why? ‘We already miss you and want some extra snuggle time, Mommy!’ Ok. Fine. Twist my arm. I’ll stay in bed an extra half hour snuggled up with my little guys. If that’s what they really need. Ah, the things we sacrifice for our kids…

So that’s my plan. A Weekend Alone. Away from the fam. Books, folk dancing, blank journal pages just begging to be filled.

Is it six o’clock yet?? I’m SO ready for this!!

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Filed under Folk Dancing, Introverts, Journaling, Moms, working moms