Family Life

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Took the kids to see a dog the other day and came home without it.  It shed like crazy!!!  Noah was so sad.  He said, “Mom, it’s like taking a kid to a candy store and not buying them any candy.”  I believe I did that the same day as well.  (Bad mom.)


Caffeine Addict

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The other day while shopping with my son, a young sales lady put a little gift in our bag.  It was a sign for a doorknob that said, “Family Tip No. 12 — Never Wake a Sleeping Mom.”   Either I need more under-eye concealer or she’s a mind-reader and deserves a promotion. I went right home and put it on my bedroom doorknob. When I’m really feeling tired I use the other side that reads, “Slowly, Quietly BACK AWAY.” I believe that’s pretty clear.
With all the children home for summer break that means more energy flying around the house (sucking every ounce of mine), five times the normal amount of questions asked on a daily basis, and absolutely no break unless I physically leave the house without any kids in tow.
My answer to this dilemma so far has been to greatly increase my caffeine intake. It doesn’t always work. Instead, my children are developing a palate for the taste of coffee and I’ve had to hide the espresso machine. Even my 2-year-old grabs my mug when I’m not looking.
To help with my lack of sleep, my husband surprised me with a coffee mug the size of the lake in front of our house. I refer to it as my coffee bowl. Two cups of that and I could help finish the Amelia Earhart Bridge in two hours flat.
I remember my pre-coffee days, which were inevitably before I had children. I didn’t need coffee back then. How did I even function? I also remember weighing less. I’m sure the extra 800 calories worth of coffee creamer I use on a daily basis doesn’t help.
At my last yearly check-up, my doctor nearly convinced me to stop drinking coffee. She said I’d initially feel tired for a few days, and after enduring the raging caffeine headaches, I’d actually feel better.  I was almost convinced until I assumed she didn’t drink anything containing caffeine.  She laughed and said, “Oh no, I live on it.” I laughed so hard, I nearly fell off the exam table.  And months later, I still need my fix. There should be a support group for this. Maybe I’ll start one.
Recently a friend recommended taking a B12 vitamin.  He said his mom takes them daily and she feels great. (She’s in her 60s, but I decided not to read anything into his advice.)  I bought the B12 vitamins immediately, grabbing the ones that contained 1,000 milligrams each. I had high hopes. The first day I tried one, I had the best nap of my life. I wish I were kidding.
Through trial and error, I’ve learned to cut my caffeine intake off before 4 p.m. For some reason, if I drink anything with caffeine after that magic hour, I end up staying up until 2 a.m. Then the vicious cycle starts all over. After having children, I was forced to change into a morning person when I’d always been a night owl.  Fourteen years later and I’m still working on it. (There is a learning curve, right?)
My long-term dream is to give up caffeine, especially caffeinated coffee. When I’m feeling optimistic, I daydream about the benefits, including internal peace on a regular basis.  It also includes not minding when there’s play dough crumpled and smashed all over my kitchen floor, or even when my angry teenager throws a cup of water at her 4-year-old sister in the house. I can visualize the calmer me now. Unfortunately up until this point, pessimism keeps winning out. I can’t fathom living without it.
One day I will be free of this caffeine burden and I’ll start my CA (Caffeine Anonymous) support group to help others. I think we’ll start each meeting with a nap.

Compliments of The Atchison Globe

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?

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

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.

It’s a Potty Party

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Roaring Like a Lion at the Zoo

Is it that time again? Do I have any energy left after all these mommy years? Can’t I hire someone else to do it? With little success, I’m trying to psych myself up for potty training once again.

My 2-year-old is beginning to show the signs. She continually pulls at her diaper and informs me what I’ll find inside. This takes care of the guesswork for me. She also keeps taking her diaper off on her own to surprise us. I know I only reinforce this by shrieking every time. I then dart around the house in a frantic state searching for it.

Although I’m not anxious to start potty training, she recently asked me if she could go poop on the potty. None of my other children started with number two. I took this as good news – actually the best news I’d had in days (it’s amazing what makes me happy since I’ve become a mother).

While concentrating on her task, she was not successful in the first bathroom. So she asked to go try in another bathroom in our house. This was uncharted territory for me, but I thought, “why not?” We played musical bathrooms until, sure enough, she achieved success. This was the only time I was grateful I didn’t live in a mansion with 15 bathrooms.

Humbly I admit, my take charge 4-year-old actually started potty-training her sister before I did. She found pull-ups in the closet and put one on her little sister. When I questioned her, she said confidently, “Mommy, she needs these now.” They were from an unused package from her earlier potty-training days. Although I get rid of a lot of things, diapers are like gold. They continually go up in price and the boxes seem to get smaller – just like Girl Scout cookies.

I’ve always wondered if there was a faster way to get a child potty trained. Someone told me about a book by Teri Crane entitled “Potty-train Your Child in Just One Day.” I checked it out at the library, but the book was due before I even had time to open it. I decided it was a sign to not even attempt it. Why rush the process anyway? I’m not sure I have anything that earth shattering in the near future to make my child get this done within 24 hours.

After skimming a Web site about Dr. Phil supporting this “one day” idea, I was a little more intrigued. But as I continued to read, it sounded a little strange (although some people swear buy it). It said I’d have to buy a baby doll that wets, party hats and horns. I literally would have to throw a party for the doll after it peed on the potty. I quickly became uninterested. It even boasted about a child getting to call their superhero when they’re done to tell them about their heroic potty-training experience. I can just hear it now, “I poop, Superman. I poop like a big girl!” Now there’s a YouTube video that would make someone laugh.

For now, I think I’ll take my chances potty training the old-fashioned way. If it lasts longer than a few months, I may break down and check the book out again. Maybe I’ll call my favorite superhero, too, and brag about my mommy accomplishment. Do you think Mrs. Incredible would be impressed?

Courtesy of the Atchison Globe

Reluctant to Let Go

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My teenage daughter has taken her first solo flight. Not exactly like Amelia Earhart, but enough to make me nervous.

Although I was reluctant to say yes to this spring break trip over the Easter holiday, I gave in. She began packing immediately upon approval from my husband and me.

Eager to see her grandparents and old friends in Arizona, she was ecstatic. Myself, on the other hand, fast-forwarded to visions of her in college traveling during family holidays instead of spending them with us. If this is any indication of how I will handle empty nest syndrome, I’m in trouble.

Growing Up Too Fast

Practically running into the airport, we realized her luggage was still in the car. Oops. At least it wasn’t at home. What teenager could live without her flat iron and 82 hair products? She laughed at me and said it was already my third blonde moment of the day. Why does she count these? I just think we forgot her bag because subconsciously I didn’t want her to go.

I wasn’t the only one feeling this way. My 4-year-old, who happens to be a miniature version of her older sister, said she was going to miss her and cry when she was gone. I did notice a slight twinge from my teenager at these words. (Maybe they really do love each other.)

Not breaking family history, her flight was delayed. This proved in our favor and made me grateful for the first time about an airline delay. She was in a great mood showing no signs of teenage hormones, and I was clinging to every last second with her. No harm done.

Since the ticket agent issued me an escort pass, I was able to go to the gate with her and hold on a little while longer. We both experienced the hyped-about body scanner for the first time. This was not the big deal it was made out to be in the news. The only thing I did notice was that a male security attendant took over when it was our turn. Let’s hope that was a coincidence.

While waiting to board, we sat and talked and she actually turned off her cell phone. This was no small miracle and a gift to me. It also gave me time to review for the hundredth time all my motherly advice. This included, sit in an aisle seat in case you have to use the restroom. If a weirdo sits next to you, immediately get a flight attendant. (Her grandmother from Phoenix advised her to scream. I guess that would work, albeit a little extreme.) I told her to call me any time and I’d be on the first flight out. I also said to text me the second she landed so I could breathe again … and oh yeah, have a great time.

With magazines, homework and an iPod, she had plenty to keep her busy for the next three hours. I practically boarded the plane with her, hoping the airport staff wouldn’t notice the extra passenger. There was a dog on board anyway, and I’m sure he didn’t have a ticket.

As I waited for her plane to taxi down the runway, I pictured her laughing with friends, sunning by the pool and shopping with her grandmother. I pictured me sighing as I passed her empty bedroom every day. (Wow! I really am in trouble.) Maybe I should have five more children. Or maybe I should just enjoy the precious time I have with the five I already have.

Compliments of the Atchison Globe