Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sibling Rivalry

I have three kids. I expect a little rivalry, one-upmanship, jealousy. However this morning I dealt with sibling jealousy as I'd never imagined I would.

Emma woke up at 4:30AM with a fever and complaining of a stomach ache. She was up until 6:15AM, when she fell back asleep on the couch. At 6:30AM, her big brother Ian ambles downstairs. When Emma wakes up at 6:40 he tells her she has to come eat breakfast. Emma comes into the kitchen informing her brother that she is not going to school today because she is sick. Instead of compassion from her brother she is met with idignation and anger. "But it's a uniform day!!" Ian protests. "She's missed more days of school than me. It's not fair!!!"

I explained that Emma has a fever and was feeling like she was going to throw up. This does not deter Ian. "Well, I felt like I was going to throw up last night. After you made me eat that meatball, I felt sick. Meatballs taste gross."

His last ditch effort came as a plea. "Can you make me something to eat that will make me sick next week?"

I imagined a lot of different situations I would deal with when I embarked on this journey of parenthood. Never once did I imagine this particular scenario.

I Know How You Feel, Elly!

Today's "For Better or For Worse" by Lynn Johnston sums up what so many stay at home moms deal with. Luckily, my husband is not like this, but I have fielded this question from other women. Elly's reaction is pretty much like I felt everytime I got that question.

If you don't have kids or do have kids but work, don't ever ask a SAHM this question, especially if she's a new mom.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Why We Can't Have Anything Nice, Part 2

Back in August I explained how my kids pulled the door off of our entertainment center. Luckily, my handy husband was able to glue it back together and today it looks no worse for the wear. Fast forward to this morning. I am brushing my teeth when my youngest comes in and explains that she didn't do it, but that she was trying to throw the towel up and it broke. OK, something broke, not a new occurrence at my house. Then I get worried. She was trying to throw it up, but it broke. That's what she said. What could she be trying to throw up to put on something. Then it occurs to me. The towel bar in the kids bathroom.

I rinse off my toothbrush and head to the kids' bathroom. There is my middle daughter preparing to brush her teeth like nothing has happened. The only problem is that behind her is the towel bar hanging precariously out of the wall on one end, with towels still half attached to the bar. I calmly ask what happened. Emma explains that she was just throwing the towel up to put it on the rack when it all came crashing down. Riiiight. I again, calmly ask if maybe she grabbed the towel rod. She said she did.

I clean up what I can and know that someone's going to have some explaining to do tonight when my husband gets home. The worst part is that we weren't going to paint the kids bathroom because the color on the walls when we moved in miraculously matched well with the shower curtain and towels I had bought before we moved in. Now, Brendan's going to have to patch the walls with some spackle, re-anchor the screws for the towel bar, and reset it all. That's going to need a little paint touch up, I think. The second worst part is that my poor husband has to live with this not only from the kids, but from me, too. In the past four months I have broken the passenger side mirror on our van, broken off the plastic piece that covers the flash on our digital camera, broken a snowman mug, and almost broke our garbage disposal. Like mother, like daughter I guess.

Fun Stamps

I was at the post office yesterday buying stamps to mail some letters to some friends as well as some bills. I bought some pretty flower stamps for the cards to my two friends and asked for a book of Forever stamps for the bills. Then out of the corner of my eye I saw the Marvel Super Hero stamps and impulsively asked the teller to throw a book of those into my order as well. I hadn't really looked at them, but having two comic book lovers in my house, I thought they'd be fun. And they are fun, but they suck, too.

See, my husband is a DC comics fan. His favorite character is Batman, but he reads a wide variety of comic titles. Because of his interest in comics, I have learned a lot about superheroes that prior to marrying him I knew very little about. I have used this knowledge to impress mostly fourth graders who were my students when I used to be a teacher in my former life. I used comic books to teach a whole lesson on the proper use of quotation marks. I spent an afternoon (okay, 15 minutes) discussing who would win in a showdown between Batman and Superman. I even impressed a few of the more well read kids with my knowledge of the names of the three Robins. But through all this I learned that the main difference between a DC hero and a Marvel hero was that Marvel relied heavily on mutants, while DC developed their characters from many varied backgrounds.

So why do I think the Marvel stamps suck? They put two female characters on the sheet, neither of them big stars. They're just there because if they put all men someone would bitch and moan that they didn't use any female characters. The first character is Spider Woman. Spider Woman? Who has ever heard of her besides comic book geeks? I mean seriously, no one knows Spider Woman. The other character was Elektra, and I don't think anyone had heard of her until Jennifer Garner played her in the "Daredevil" movie. DC has Wonder Woman, who clearly stands on her own as a well known superhero and as someone I'd want to see on a postage stamp. On the DC stamps they also used Supergirl, who I know wouldn't exist without Superman, but again, at least people know her. They didn't use but could have also made a Bat Girl stamp, also a better known character than either Spider Woman or Elektra.

Then lets look at the other players on the stamps. Most are fairly big names, well known guys until my eyes fell upon The Sub-Mariner. Who? This guy is a big super hero and deserves a stamp? Really? There was not one other Marvel hero they could have picked that someone who is not a comic geek would know? In this stamp contest DC wins hands down, and not just because my husband has a framed set of the DC heroes stamps over his dresser.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Cupcakes and 1/2 Birthdays

Ian's half birthday is tomorrow, so I made cupcakes to send into his class to celebrate. He requested my Snickerdoodle Cupcakes with Cinnamon Buttercream frosting, a real favorite at my house.

Last year I made him cupcakes frosted to look like baseballs and basketballs. This year he didn't ask for anything specific for decorations, so I decided to try and make lego bricks out of marshmallow fondant for the tops of the cupcakes. Ian loves legos, and it seemed like a "cool" third grade kind of decoration.

They turned out pretty well for my first time attempting fondant legos. From across the room, they look quite real. Get closer, and you can see that they are not very uniform. Ian was happy with them, though, so I am too. (Luckily Ian's class is small, so we have a few extra for dessert tonight!)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Save Your Toilet Paper Tubes

So both my girls were home sick yesterday. Zoe had a low grade fever and Emma had a nasty cough. But they were both playing together and having a lot of fun. As I finished straightening my hair in my bathroom I looked in the cabinet under my sink and decided it was time to clean a few things out. The easiest thing to get rid of that took up a lot of space was the 20 or so empty toilet paper and paper towel tubes I was saving for an art project with Emma's kindergarten class that never panned out.

Knowing my two girls would LOVE this treasure trove of garbage, I packed them into a bag and went into their room where they were playing cats. I asked if they would like the bag of tubes and they enthusiastically shouted, "Yes."

I went back to organizing when Emma burst into the bathroom with a toilet paper tube around a paper towel tube. She told me that if she squeezed the outer tube and moved it up and down, it made a neat sound, like and instrument. She then detailed for me how she was going to make a bunch of other instruments. She ran off happily thinking of all the things she could do with over 20 toilet paper tubes.

About a minute or two later she burst in again with a paper towel tube in hand, with one end covered in toilet paper. I suggested that if she used a rubber band the toilet paper would stay in place for her to create more. We couldn't find any rubber bands and decided that hair bands would work just as well.

Next thing I know Emma has drawn a face on her paper towel invention and declares that it is a boy. Zoe wants one, too, and so we wrap more toilet paper around another tube, but it has to be a girl, with long toilet paper hair this time. Emma forgets all about the musical instruments and makes several more toilet tube people, including a baby named Madeline by cutting a tube in half. She draws clothes and crowns on paper, cuts them out, and tapes them to her tube people. She even makes a tower for the princess to be stuck in, a TV, and various food and utensils to eat the food with.

I was both amazed and amused by all the creativity oozing out of my girls. Not only that, but this activity which involved very little of my help took up 1 1/2 to 2 hours of the morning. The girls were getting along wonderfully, and having a ball playing with their new "toys."

I guess I better get busy saving some other garbage for a rainy day, who knows what they'll do with it?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Post in Which I Bitch

I am a SAHM. That's a Stay At Home Mom for the few people out there who don't know their acronyms. I have been a SAHM since June of 1999, when I finished my last year of teaching and waited for my first born to come in July. I have provided babysitting services to friends and neighbors at different times in the last 8 1/2 years of being home, but otherwise have not worked outside the home.

This year, after all those 8 1/2 years of having kids attached at the hip, hand, breast or ankle, I finally got two hours a week guaranteed to myself. The two oldest are in school full time, and my youngest started speech. Speech is twice a week for two one hour sessions. Fortunately the school where Zoe goes to speech is very close to both our home and shopping, so I fully take advantage of those two hours.

Early in the Fall of 2007, I fell into a pattern where I grocery shopped on the first speech day, and did other errands on the second speech day. I liked that I didn't have to grocery shop with any kids and got it done during the day (not at night or on the weekend). But as the year has progressed, I've been wanting a little more time to just enjoy myself, not to grocery shop or pay bills. So when our meal menu ended on a weekend (I make a weekly menu, then make a grocery list, it's the only way I can grocery shop efficiently and effectively!) I made a list and went shopping on a Saturday morning two Saturdays ago. I couldn't wait for the upcoming week because I knew I wouldn't have to stop at the grocery store and would have time to just shop for fun, or maybe even go to Starbucks for a latte (I received two gift cards for my Birthday and have not used them at all yet!) Well, I did the fun shopping on Tuesday. I went to Old Navy and found a great gift for my friend's baby shower in February. Then as I considered what I might do on Thursday (Starbucks here I come!!!!), my oldest came down with a fever. No lattes for me. Oh well, there's always next week, right? Wrong.

This week (which was the next week from above) has not panned out for me either. I did my grocery shopping over the weekend again, looking forward to another week of two hours to myself. As I eagerly awaited Tuesday morning, knowing I would get to drop Zoe at speech and go to return some items at Penney's and pay a bill, I knew Thursday would be free for some coffee goodness. Nope. Hasn't worked. Zoe woke up with a stomach ache and fever, and Emma has a horrendous cough. Which of course means that I will return my stuff to Penney's on Thursday, and there will be no lattes this week, either.

I know that one of these weeks it will pan out for me, but it hasn't yet. And I feel a bit guilty for complaining because I know the reason I stay home is so that I can take care of my kids, especially when they are sick, but all I want is a latte and 45 minutes with a good book once or twice a month. Is that too much to ask after 8 1/2 years of being home with my kids?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Dessert Preview

For Christmas this year one of my sister's kids had Zoe's name. So Leanne bought Zoe some cool things for her gift. There was a princess Barbie that could turn into a bride Barbie, two Strawberry Shortcake DVD's, and a Strawberry Shortcake Cookbook with three cookie cutters. Zoe immediately became enthralled with the cookbook, looking through each page and deciding whether or not she was going to make each dish. She corralled several of her aunts and her Grandma at various times during the party and made them look at the cookbook with her as she described how she would make each recipe with me.

Neither my sister or I knew what a hit this cookbook would be. The Barbie didn't get opened until our return to Illinois, but the cookbook was looked over several times before that (and since!).

So today we finally made our first recipe from the cookbook. It was called Pink Peppermint Pie. Zoe doesn't like peppermint ice cream, though, so we substituted vanilla with some red food coloring. Zoe scooped ice cream, squeezed food coloring and stirred the mixture together until the ice cream became smooth and pink. She then transferred the pink ice cream to the chocolate cookie crust we bought at the store and smoothed out the top almost all by herself. I unwrapped two cherry candy canes leftover from Christmas and she placed them on top of the cake to look like a heart, just like in the picture from the recipe. Our final touch was to add chocolate chips to the top, just for fun.

After determining that we better put the pie in the freezer or it would melt, Zoe cleaned the bowl of the leftover melted ice cream. Tonight after dinner we will enjoy Zoe's first dessert. I'm sure it will not be her last!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Frustrations With Weight

I spent all of 2006 overweight. Not a lot, but heavier than I had been my entire life (excepting my pregnancies, of course.) So when March of 2007 came around I finally decided to do something about it. I started being very careful of what I ate and when I ate. I picked up on my exercise a little bit (always a sporadic thing for me.) Over the course of six or seven months I had lost ten pounds and was at my goal weight.

After spending two months (give or take) at my desired weight, I was more than a little nervous for the upcoming holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas. I made it through Thanksgiving just fine and jumped into Christmas feet first. I made countless dozen cookies, made dessert for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and attended a cookie exchange with ten other women. I was so proud of myself for making it through the 25th of December with no change on the scale. And I ate desserts and cookies, but I was sensible and careful.

Then came my downfall. We loaded the kids into the van and went to Ohio for Christmas with my family. Because we are coming from so far away, we got there the night before (the 28th of December) and spent the night. Fine. But on the 29th, the day of the party, there was lots of good food. Not only did I bring my Christmas cookies that I continued to refill throughout the day, but there was all kinds of snacks left out to munch on. Good snacks. Chips and salsa. Fruit with chocolate dip. Cheese. Chocolates from the local ice cream store. Cocktail weinies (ok, I didn't eat these, but they were there.) I grazed much of the day. Then after dinner there was pie. Good pie. You get my drift.

And had we only been there for that one day, it probably would have been fine. But of course we stayed the night on the 29th (along with most of the rest of my family). My mom got up and made quiche, a tea ring, and had kringle. I of course had two pieces of tea ring (a cinnamon roll like creation) and some other good stuff. Then later in the day I had the last piece of pumpkin pie (mainly because the pecan pie was all gone already.)

When we finally packed up and went home, I knew I was going to be in trouble when I stepped on the scale again. And sure enough, I had added 2-3 pounds. The worst part as that I didn't fix my eating when I got home. I kept indulging, more than I should have. I finally stopped when the scale tipped four pounds more than my "happy" weight.

What was I doing? It had taken me six months to lose ten pounds and I was ruining it in the span of ten days! So now I am two pounds over and still struggling. I really want it to go away, but know that I have to put in the hard work to get rid of the extra pounds. I plan on doing it; I am not going back to being ten pounds overweight. But it still sucks.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Blessings Of Saying "No"

I say "no" a lot. I say it to my kids, I say it to myself, I say it to my kids some more. I've never been afraid to say it, although I must admit I sometimes fear the possible reaction my kids will give me. Sometimes I get, "Why not?" with a defiant chin stuck out after I say ,"No." Other times it's a plaintive and high pitched, "Pleeeeeeeeease?" And still other times it is just a grumpy huff and nasty look sent my way. But I have to admit, most of the time the reaction from my kids is a calm "Okay," like they didn't expect me to say yes anyways, but they had to at least try.

I got to thinking about this last reaction today as I left the "Explorer Store" at the DuPage Children's Museum with Zoe today. We were getting ready to leave and she asked if we could go into the store. I told her that we couldn't buy anything, and she said she knew that. So we went in and looked around a little bit. She asked if I would get her a giant bubble wand, I said, "No," and she moved onto looking at the magnetic pizza. We left and she walked right out of the store without any problem.

Her behavior (and mine) got me to thinking that my kids and lots of others are lucky to have people in their life who say "No." I do it for four main reasons.
1. Because my kids already have plenty of stuff and they don't need more
2. Because they will never learn the value of money, saving money, and earning money as well as the value of a purchase they make by saving their own money
3. Because possessions are not what makes a person truly happy
4. Because we are on a tight budget

But truly I never thought about how lucky kids are that have parents who say no to them. I know that it seems like my kids are the only ones who don't get an overpriced plastic souvenir at Disney on Ice productions. I know how my kids don't wear name brand clothing (and they're not old enough yet to really care or be aware of this yet). I know how my husband and I make choices that my kids will never know about, sacrifices that allow them to go to Catholic school, to have Christmas presents under the tree, to have birthday presents that they love, to have a mother who stays home with them. My kids have noticed that we don't go to McDonald's very much anymore, that we eat almost all of our meals at home. But, that makes going to McDonald's even more special when we do.

I know that I would rather have the life I have now, with a loving husband and hand-me-down clothes for the girls, dinner at home every night, and an anniversary dinner at Giordano's instead of some expensive restaurant over a possession filled, iPhone and big screen TV kind of life. That to me isn't nearly as fulfilling as having to say "No" sometimes.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Football Game of the Week

Forget the playoffs in the Pro's (no one you really want to watch anyways!) - the real action is tonight.

Go Buckeyes!