Month: May 2010

Bathroom Product Bliss

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Everyone knows that men and women have a lot of differences. My husband tries so hard to understand me, but even after 15 years of marriage some things still baffle him. For some reason, he can’t let some things go. He continues to ask me time and time again why I have so many products in our shower. I understand this must be difficult to understand, since he grew up with three brothers. Apparently, he never ventured into his mother’s bathroom as a young boy. She could win a prize for the most perfumes owned by a single person in the entire world. Only another woman would understand this need.

After I shrug my shoulders and give an extended, long sigh, I always give the same answer to him, “Because I’m a woman. We need a lot of products.” All the while I’m thinking, “Is he really asking me this question again? Just let it go.”

He always compliments the softness of my skin, anyway. Geez, how does he think I accomplish this feat?

Women don’t just need a bar of soap and shampoo. We couldn’t possibly be that simple. We need conditioners and shower gels and loofahs and a smooth razor in a pretty color. And we need options for all of these products. Some days I want to smell like fruit and some days like flowers. How am I to know what mood I’ll be in when I wake up? Does he eat the same thing for breakfast every morning?

He then will ask, “Why can’t you just use one kind of shampoo?” Then, while crossing my arms in complete boredom with this conversation, I go into my usual dissertation on why I need three different shampoos.

“Isn’t it obvious?” I say. “Some days my hair is flat and I need shampoo that volumnizes. On other days it’s dry, and I need a moisturizing shampoo. On the rare occasion when my hair is healthy, I only require a product for normal hair.”

Why doesn’t he get it? How does he survive with only two products in our shower? This baffles me, yet he wonders why his skin is so dry. Who uses bar soap anymore?

Don’t even get me started on shower gels and yummy-smelling liquid soap. I can’t help it if Bath and Body Works continues to come up with new, fabulous, scented products. Their shower gels smell delicious and I feel like I’m eating a piece of fruit when I use them. Some days this is as close as I get to eating healthy. It must account for some vitamins when I inhale the smell of fruit, right? I can’t help it that I absolutely love the smell of juicy melon mixed with crisp, clean-smelling cucumber. He has to admit he must love it, too, because we ended up with five children somehow.

My son – who shares a bathroom with his sisters – doesn’t understand either. He should just give up trying to understand now. He has already asked me in disgust why his sisters have so many things in the shower. “Trust me,” I say. “You may never understand, but at least this will make you a better husband. Maybe you’ll just accept it by the time you’re married.”

He just stares at me in complete silence and walks away.

Well, I’ve decided the day my husband understands why I have so many bathroom products is the day I’ll understand why men read the paper for 20 to 30 minutes every morning in their office – a.k.a. bathroom. My mother taught me at a young age, if she can’t find my dad in the house, she knows he’s not outside washing the car or doing yard work. She can always find him sitting on the porcelain throne. Surprisingly, this has saved me a lot of time and frustration. See, men are confusing, too, but do I repeatedly ask them the need for this activity?

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Dinner Time Blues

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Why do my children want food right after the dinner dishes are cleaned up? I want the sign my mom used to have in her kitchen. It had a chicken on it and read, “Kitchen’s closed. This chick’s had it.”

On a regular night, between me running the older kids to their sports practices, I’m usually cooking dinner while the kids are doing homework or playing with the neighborhood kids around our home. I have a friend that refers to this time of day as “the witching hour,” because on top of all the busyness, everyone’s usually tired. I have another friend that refers to this time of day as “Happy Hour.” Yes, she means the cocktail kind. I just prefer to think of it as a challenge I’m determined to conquer.

It’s no small miracle that my family even sees a home cooked meal with our schedules. It’s like multi-tasking on steroids. This is why I get a little miffed when one or more of our children turn their noses up at what I’ve prepared. I believe the meal that takes 30 minutes or more to prepare and only five minutes to eat should be greatly appreciated and savored. I want to hear “oohs” and “ahhs,” not “Yuck, what’s that?” or “Pasta again?”

The frustration usually begins a day or two after I’ve grocery shopped. Someone opens the pantry or fridge door and whines “There’s nothing to eat.” Have they already eaten $200 worth of groceries? Is that humanly possible in two days? I’m pretty sure the cupboard still looks full, because my grocery bill receipt says it should be.From the time the kids get home from school, I’m usually asked at least four or five times “what’s for dinner” and my baby can’t even speak yet. I cringe while waiting to hear their responses. Sometimes I feel like hanging a chalkboard in the kitchen to list the day’s dinner menu. I want to add a note at the bottom that says “Remember, you have two choices for dinner: Take it or leave it.” I read this in a store somewhere and thought it was clever. That person obviously had kids.

At my children’s school, they have a choice of peanut butter and jelly or salad if they don’t like the scheduled meal that day. I’m sure they would appreciate this choice at home, too. My husband, who’s against this, says they should eat what I fix. I have to agree or my children would eat PB&J on a nightly basis.

It’s not all complaints, though. When I’m in a pinch for time, I make something quick and easy like macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets, or my son’s favorite – frozen pizza. This is usually when I get the most compliments on my cooking. If that’s what you call putting cardboard topped with cheese in an oven. This is the night my toddler usually says “Mommy, thanks for dinner. It’s sooo good.” Why do I bother with roast, quiche and lasagna?

It’s hard to constantly come up with new dinner ideas, and like most moms and dads, I usually get in a rut. For this reason, I had a friend ask me to share some recipes. I’m still waiting for her to reciprocate. In the meantime, I’ve got fish sticks in the freezer I bought during Lent last year. Even I refuse to eat them. I’m still trying to come up with a way to disguise the taste. I guess the freezer burn should take care of that pretty soon.

Until then, I’m working with my children on acceptable dinner phrases. From now on I only want to hear “Wow, that looks delicious!” Or “This time you’ve really outdone yourself, mom. This is the best dinner ever!” And my personal favorite, “You’re even a better chef than Julia Childs.” Ah yes, I can’t wait to bask in the glow.

Compliments of the Atchison Globe

Reverting Back to Childhood

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Why is it when you visit your parents, you’re suddenly a child again? It doesn’t even matter how many children you have of your own. Once you’re in their house, the clock seems to turn back to those teenage years. You’re once again under their roof and expected to follow their rules.

This past summer, I stayed with my parents while visiting Arizona. It didn’t take long to revert back a few decades. I stayed in my old room, which felt smaller than it used to. My mom bought me the foods I like, and even bought a coffeemaker since she’s not a coffee drinker herself. She’s always been hospitable.

After a few days, I announced I was going out to meet some old friends. She said she would babysit my two youngest children … with conditions. “What might those be,” I thought. Quite simply, she didn’t want me to stay out late. Since our definition of late has never been on the same page, I asked her to clarify. To me, late means 1 a.m. – she announced it was 11 p.m. I thought, “You’ve got to be kidding! Am I not 39-years-old? My little ones go to bed at 7:30. You can go to bed anytime after that.” Instead, I reverted back to being the rule-follower and agreed to her request. Then I went into my old room, almost slammed my door, and cursed under my breath. I was in complete disbelief that I was given a curfew as a middle-aged adult. I was tempted to get back to their house at 11:01 p.m. to see if I’d be grounded. I opted against pushing my luck and arrived at 10:59 . just in case. I’m still a chicken.

Now that they’re visiting for the holidays, it’s payback time. Now my parents get to follow my rules, essentially mirroring several of the ones I grew up with. There couldn’t be a better Christmas present to give myself. (I’m refraining from an evil laugh as I write this.)

These are the rules they are expected to follow:

1. You will eat all your vegetables before being excused from the table. We don’t have a dog, so don’t even think about disposing of them under the table. And just in case you were wondering, broccoli floats in milk.

2. You are allowed five-minute showers, seven minutes if you need to shave your legs. Water isn’t free, you know.

3. You may not touch the thermostat under any condition. It will remain set at 68 degrees. (It is engrained in my head that my father wouldn’t turn on the air conditioner until it was 105 degrees outside. He always said someone needed to save money in the household.)

4. Lights out at 9 p.m. If I hear any giggling coming out of the bedroom, you will be separated.

5. During any sight-seeing trips during your visit, you are not allowed to ask how long it will take to get there.

6. If I find a pair of your shoes lying around the house, you will owe me a quarter. (Once again, my father’s rule.)

7. If you swear, it will cost you 50 cents. If you drop the “f -bomb” consider it a $1 … and feel free since all proceeds will go directly towards your grandchildren’s college fund.

8. There will be no slamming doors, complaining at mealtime or staying out late under any condition. If you do not follow these rules, you will be grounded and forced to participate in “Family Day” activities. This pretty much includes visiting any place with flowers. For example, the botanical gardens when it’s over 100 degrees or random poppies growing in a field two hours away, and/or any other place within a 150-mile radius with blooming foliage.

9. As for the car ride, you will be allowed one potty break during the trip and are required to hold it the rest of the way.

If you successfully follow these rules, there is good news. You can move in when you turn 65. Then you can either pay rent or go back to college.

Know that I have given you these rules because I love you and care about your well-being. Oh, merry, merry Christmas to me.

Driving Me Crazy

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For some reason my husband feels the need to give me gray hair when he drives. His idea of driving, in his own words is “conquering the road.” How about just getting from point A to point B safely? Am I the only woman who feels this way? I don’t think so. Amy Grant wrote a song a while back about her husband driving like Mario Andretti. She’s not even married to the guy any more. I wonder if it was his driving?

When Phil and I were dating, I just tried to be polite and not say much. I pretty much had my best foot forward and kept my eye on the diamond. And love is blind, in the beginning stages anyway, so I overlooked his driving skills. Who knew they’d get worse?

Now that we’ve been married almost 17 years, I’ve become a front-seat driver (in the passenger seat anyway). I like to give him my opinion of how he’s driving throughout our trips. He doesn’t particularly like this part of our relationship. I can’t say I blame him but if I don’t tell him to slow down and pick a lane, who will? I think I got this from my grandmother, who used to grip the dashboard when my grandfather drove.

Although my GPS and I have a rocky relationship, there is one feature that’s become my best friend. I can turn on the speed warning. Any time my husband drives over the speed limit, which is frequently, the GPS makes a horrible trumpet sound. The only downside to this being, I get sick of hearing it on any trip over 20 minutes. But if it saves me from death and outrageously expensive speeding tickets, then I can live with it.

To be fair, I can’t just pick on my husband’s driving as if mine is perfect. I’ve been in several car accidents, only one of which I was the driver, and I wasn’t at fault. And to my husband’s credit, while we were dating, I was the first one to get a speeding ticket. I was so mad. I was more upset that it wasn’t him than I was about paying for it. He loves to remind me of these misfortunes when I tell him I’m the best driver in the family.

The frightening part is, our oldest is now 14 years old. So, things are changing. She is paying attention to everything we do in the car. Since we moved here, she’s talked about the driving age and counted the days until she could get her permit. Although I never thought I’d allow a 14-year-old to drive, I’ve witnessed the benefits of this through my friends’ teenagers. On her birthday, I wrapped up the driving test booklet and gave her a key chain. I burst her bubble by telling her there wasn’t going to be a key to a brand new car to go with it, but she could learn to drive in her father’s car. Not mine, of course.

By far, she is the most responsible child in this family. She has all those first-born traits – type A personality, straight As or death, and she can be really bossy! This is part of the reason I’ve jumped on board with this farm state law of driving at age 14. Although we don’t live on a farm, there’s one right down the road, so does that count?

The more important question that remains is, who will be the one to teach her how to drive? Will it be Mario Andretti or me? My guess is we both will. I plan to go out after my husband drives with her, so my daughter and I can review everything my husband has done wrong. This will be my favorite part of the lesson. Then I will calmly tell her how to drive like a responsible teenager, so one day she can tell her own husband what he’s doing wrong. This is going to be so fun. I can’t wait.

Lisa Baniewicz is an Atchison resident and stay-at-home mom with five children ranging in age from 2-14 years old.

Courtesy of The Atchison Globe

Hope Regarding Boyfriends

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My 4-year-old, Hope, had planned to marry Miles (also 4) when she grew up.  The other day she said, “Mom, I’m not going to marry Miles anymore.  He broke my heart.  I’m going to marry Owen (his brother).”

She’s too young to talk like this and I’m too old to hear it!

Hope Thoughts

Flying Frog

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The Flying Frog
Backyard Entertainment

This is the difference between girls and boys.  My girls ran away from the frog screaming.  My son threw it 30 feet in the air like it was a baseball.  After tossing it several times, he put it safely back in its home.  Lucky froggy.