Friday, February 27, 2009

Words of wisdom

As parents, we’ve all heard crazy words coming from our lips. I wish I would have written them all down over the years. Listed below are a few that I remember. I would love to hear yours.

Cavities don’t care whether it is day or night.

Remember, you are representing this family and the Boy Scouts of America.

We are at Disney World, #@## it, and you are going to have fun whether you like it or not.

No peeing in the front yard.

Get off the table, drawer, cabinet, banister, bed post, dresser…(You get the idea.)

Your shirt and pants are on backwards. Yes, it matters.

A loose woman is one who is lost.

Throw those socks away!

Wake up and spit your gum out.

We don’t have to tell everybody everything.

Now, what exactly did you tell them?

Happy New Year’s! (after setting the clocks ahead two hours)

The policeman pulled me over to tell me to have a good day.

Mommy is drinking her headache medicine.

I don’t know why he/she is honking.

The burned part tastes the best. (I inherited this one from my mom).

Get the guinea pig off the bed, please.

If you don’t want to ride on back of a garbage truck smelling trash all day, then you’d better go to college. Yes, you have to.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The joy of socks

The baby socks are always the last to go. My daughter only wears half a shoe size less than I do and is over a decade old, yet we still have her baby socks, or, rather, sock. In honor of my birthday weekend, we had sock-sorting party, which involves giving the kids some Coca-Cola and dumping a basket load of unmatched socks in the middle of the living room floor—Whoo hoo! Party time!

Okay, they didn’t fall for it, either. But since it was my birthday weekend, they pitched in to help with little complaint. We had a pile for each of our family members, which were soon overshadowed by another rapidly growing pile.

“Whose stack is that?” I asked.

“Oh, that’s nobody’s,” my daughter said.

“Nobody wears socks?” I asked.

Apparently, nobody just wears one sock because we certainly couldn’t find any matches.

My son’s foot has probably grown the most, and, like most boys, his socks have seen the most wear.

“Son, do you know how to roll up socks?” my husband asked him, very seriously.

“No, sir,” he answered solemly.

Then my husband proceeded to give him a lesson on how to. Have you ever tried to teach someone to do this? It’s harder than you think but funny to watch. I told my son his wife would thank us someday but that didn’t seem to be a great motivator.

We got rid of all the socks with holes, the socks that were too little, socks that were too babyish, the socks that just wouldn’t come clean, the socks with toes (my daughter doesn’t like those anymore), ugly socks, and some perfectly fine, but unwanted socks that nobody would claim.

My husband matched up some of his Izod socks. He paid $6 a piece for them and has owned them for 20 years. I think he’s gotten his money’s worth. As for the kids, I’ve warned them that they all better be wearing clean socks tomorrow, or else we'll start having a weekly sock-sorting party. And not even our one-footed friend nobody wants that!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Let us eat cake

Today is my birthday, and, I have to say, it’s been nice. I got breakfast in bed, which included a smoothie made from my brand-new blender. My ever-practical husband finally figured out he should wait a week to give me those household gifts instead of surprising me with them on Valentine’s Day. (Although I will admit that even though it didn’t smell like a rose, last year’s no-touch can opener did turn out to be pretty cool.)

I always miss my grandmothers on my birthday. My mother’s mother had the uncanny ability to, despite the unpredictable mail service, have a card waiting in my mailbox ON my birthday, not a day sooner or later. My dad’s mother would always call and sing happy birthday to me all the way through, and, despite the fact that her severe hearing loss rendered her off-key, it was beautiful music to my ears. She loved birthdays, perhaps that’s where I get it from.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t need anyone making a big fuss over mine, but I like to go all out for my children. We’ve done princess parties, complete with a large castle made from refrigerator boxes painted pink. We’ve made homemade piƱatas from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Spiderman. We’ve had cowboy and Indian parties, with toy guns and bow and arrows, not to mention a teepee in the backyard.

We’ve even rented a giant blow-up waterslide for my son’s April birthday and watched the kids shiver themselves silly. Oh, that reminds me, we’ve had pirate parties with swords and eye patches, slumber parties, rock climbing parties, Chuck E Cheese parties, movie parties, gymnastic parties, and surprise parties. I am truly the party mom!

All three children have birthdays coming up, and I can’t wait to start planning. My husband tends to worry about the budget, but I say let them eat cake—they’re only young once.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

What a lift!

You just have to know my son.

He’s a great boy. He’s funny, good-natured--and klutzy. I’m never sure if he falls down on purpose, but he sure seems to have fun doing it no matter where he is—soccer field, basketball court, in the driveway, at school, in church, and now he can add on the ski slope to his list. He falls; he laughs, and I worry. It’s a pattern.

I watched in horror as he fell over and over again during his ski lesson on our recent vacation. It wasn’t so much his falling that bothered me. It was where he fell--right smack dab in the middle of the slope while crazy skiers and snowboarders dodged him at the last minute. After repeating the fall, laugh and scare mama scenario a dozen times, he began to get the hang of it.

So, once he could finally slow down without skiing backwards, he progressed from the bunny slope to a larger slope that required a ski lift. After watching my son and his daddy navigate up and down the big hill a few times, I got talked into tagging along. And somehow this worry-wart mom got paired with her forever-falling son for the ski lift ride. I knew this was not going to be a good idea.

The gate opened, and off I went like a race horse, just in time to hear him yell, “Wait, Mom!”

He must not have known that a body in motion on the ski slopes stays in motion—well, my body, anyway, and I skied to the red line. Okay, just beyond the red line, as my son followed suit. We had just stopped when we felt the lift under us. We were lifted into the air with my son’s fanny barely, I mean barely, touching the chair. Not only that, the boy was leaning forward. Did I mention there was no rail?

I threw down my poles and grabbed his coat by the collar and pulled him back with one hand while hanging on with the other.

“Mom, are you worried?” he asked, incredulously. “I’ve done this with Dad a bunch of times, and I haven’t fallen yet.”

So, knowing he was safe in my grasp, I began to focus on how I was going to get off the lift without my poles.

“Are you going to use those poles?” I asked my son.

“You can have them,” he said, like a good boy, “as soon as I use them to get off.”

He may fall down a lot, but apparently he hasn’t been landing on his head! As for me and my exit off the chair lift, I’m praying there’s not a you tube video out there somewhere. Let’s just say he comes by it honestly.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A "moving" experience

I had a big imagination when I was a little girl. I was very quiet on the outside, but inside I was making plans. And most of them involved moving away from the small town that I lived in.

For one thing, there was another Leigh in my class, except his name was spelled L-e-e; therefore, we were both called by our first and last names, which got old by about 7th grade. The funny thing is we did it, too, when talking to one another.

To make matters worse, we both caught mono at the same time. I told my friends that the doctor said you could get it by drinking out of the same water fountain, but, of course, they thought we had gotten the so-called “kissing disease” the old-fashioned way. The teasing was enough to make this shy (at the time) girl want to pack her bags. (As a side note, Lee and I actually went out once during our junior year of high school. We agreed it was too weird. I mean what would people call us if we got married?).

Moving was a very romantic idea to me. I would reinvent myself. I would be called by my first name--Meredith. (Mother didn’t call me this because she said she was worried I would have a hard time spelling it in Kindergarten. Maybe she’s right because it’s actually spelled differently on my birth certificate!)

Back to my story, once I settled in my new town, I would not have braces or glasses or be too skinny. I would be the most popular girl in school, and my hair would feather back like Farah Fawcett’s. I would be able to hit a softball, my pom poms would not be made from white trash bags, I would play in the band instead of sitting outside the room listening, and I would not buy my clothes from K-Mart.

Despite my plans, we never moved. My parents still live in the same house I grew up in. My family and I live just a couple of miles down the road. Along the way, I got my braces off, I got contacts, I gained enough weight to catch up with my height, Farah Fawcett’s hair went out of style, and K-Mart closed. My middle school friends didn’t recognize me when I started high school.

I ended up marrying a man from out of town. He moved almost every year of his school life. He never got to finish a little league season or Boy Scouts or make friends for more than nine months at a time.

Looking back, I’m so glad we stayed put. I love this town and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. Although, there are moments when I think it might be nice to live in a place where no one knows the good and bad parts of my past. But, I guess I need to face reality--no matter where I live, I would still never be able to hit a softball.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Good hike

I realize I should post a nice spring photo in light of our groundhog's prediction; however, I came across this one from a hike our family took in the fall. My daughter and son had discovered some charcoal along the trail and had great fun writing on every rock they could find. It motivated them to run (despite my yelling for them to walk) ahead, so they could reach the next blank canvas.

My daughter's "graffiti" got funnier and funnier as the day progressed. I wish I had taken photos of all of them. One even read, "It's five o'clock somewhere!" This was the last rock on the trail, and I thought it summed up our day perfectly. Next week, we are off to the mountains again. Here's to another good hike....

Monday, February 9, 2009

Cupid--You've gotta love him

Have you been to Hallmark lately? If so, then you’ve seen the assortment of Valentine’s Day cards that you now have to select from--lover, mother, friend, daughter, daughter-in-law, daughter and her husband, husband, man that I love, man I wish I didn’t love, wife, wonderful husband, lazy husband, old couples, new couples, troubled relationship, and even cards to and from your cat.

I’m not really big on Valentine’s Day. Traditionally, it’s been just a day that makes me feel bad. I think it dates back to middle and high school when it was nothing but a big competition. Names were called over the intercom at the end of the day for girls who received roses. If you didn’t, you were humiliated. Sort of like “The Bachelor,” except being on that show is humiliating enough.

Timing was everything around Valentine’s. You needed a boyfriend--any boy would do-- and you needed to keep him until after Valentine’s. Very tricky because there were a few cheap boys who would break up with their girlfriends right before Valentine’s just so they wouldn’t have to send them flowers. How do I know? Because I know--just take my word for it.

Anyway, in that case, you needed a back up plan. If your parents had money, and you were willing to be teased a little at home, you would ask them to send you flowers. Of course, you’d have to plead with them not to put their names on it. I was able to talk mine into it my junior year. Another option would be to find a friend and pledge to send each other flowers anonymously. Thinking about it now, I guess one could have sent them to oneself, but how sad is that?

For me, Valentine’s Day was all downhill after eighth grade. I had a boyfriend. I don’t remember talking to him much, but he was very good in shop class and would always sand my projects for me. On V Day, my name was called, and I had three pink roses waiting on me. It was the first time I had ever gotten any, and it was a big deal. I was proudly holding them in my lap on the bus ride home when the boy I had a big crush on said, “I can do that.”

I wasn’t sure who he was talking to, or what he was talking about, so I didn’t respond. The next day my name was called over the intercom. Waiting for me were half a dozen red roses with his name on it, AND when he got off the bus, he left a brown paper bag on my seat. Inside held a box of chocolate that played music and a card. I kept those for the longest time. In fact, I may still have them in the attic.

You know, the more I think of it, Valentine’s isn’t such a bad holiday after all. And if you haven’t gotten your (fill in the blank) a card yet, go now and get one. Hallmark leaves you without an excuse not to, and chances are she’ll remember it for a long time.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Time travel

I was going to write about what a frustrating Friday I had. I was going to say that I must have been caught up in some “Lost” type time travel and landed on a Monday.

I was going to tell you how rude the orthodontist receptionist was to me when I tried to change my daughter’s appointment, and how I wanted to scream, “I’m paying you $5,000 for this metal in her mouth. Can you please be courteous?”

I was going to tell you how my husband’s credit report got mixed up with some guy’s in South Georgia with the same name, except that guy doesn’t pay his electric bill, or his phone bill, or his gas bill…

I was going to tell you if you bring a photo into Walgreens and scan it on their machine, it doesn’t spit the copy out right away. You have to come back for it.

I had a growing list of complaints to share, but then something remarkable happened…I had a perfect Saturday. Here’s why:

I ran a 5k and lived to tell (and joke) about it.

The weather was incredible—60 degrees or more without a cloud in the sky.

I did not have a headache.

The kids played outside all day after scoring 6-8 points a piece in their basketball game.

I did not burn dinner. In fact, everyone asked for seconds. And I put tonight’s dinner in the crockpot.

All the laundry’s done, and the toilets are cleaned. (Quick come over while it lasts! Oops, sorry, you missed your window.)

I went shopping and found some great deals on things I didn’t need.

I put gas in my car for work, so I don’t have to stop on Monday when I’m running late. And I will be.

I remembered to bring my coupons to the grocery.

I worked on my book about my grandfather.

I got to snuggle with my son and watch “Superman Returns.” Finally, a character that I know more about than he does.

I tucked the kids in bed early and watched a chick flick (Mamma Mia) while sipping a cosmo. You kind of need it with that movie, but the music is fun.

Went to bed early and slept all night without any crazy dreams.

It was a day worth a dozen frustrating Fridays. If only I could relive it again—hmm…now back to that time travel idea…

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Dream Weaver

I’m a big dreamer. I don’t mean just in the figurative sense. I mean when I close my eyes at night, I see crazy, complex images that leave me feeling tired by the time morning comes around.

I’ve heard that everyone dreams. (How do “they” know, anyway?) Some just don’t remember them. My husband is one of those people. About twice a year, he’ll wake up and recall one. I, on the other hand, wake up with a virtual novel full of ideas. Sometimes I’ve even written a novel in my sleep.

During college, I used to dream in French. All those hours in the language lab would pay off once I fell asleep. The mind is an incredible thing. I knew a girl from our church who injured her head in a car accident. She spoke fluent French the entire time she was in intensive care after having only studied it for a year in high school.

Speaking of school, I’ve yet to meet a college grad who didn’t have the dreaded “It’s the end of the quarter, and I haven’t been to class!” dream. I still have it, and it’s always Math class. My other reoccurring dream is that I’m running away and/or being chased. Whoever is behind me never catches up, however, which is amazing, since I’m no runner.

I have had several repetitive jobs in my life, which have always carried over into my dream-life. I’ve spent many a night pulling and pricing orders like my high school warehouse job, or moving the mouse up and down, while searching for errors like the technical editing job that I had.

Currently, I’ve been dreaming about religion a lot, particularly hell. What’s it like? Very similar to those jobs, except much hotter. Well, maybe not as hot as that warehouse job.

Sweet dreams…

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A full house

The woman who recently delivered octuplets has created quite the stir, especially since she had six little kids at home and no husband to speak of. However, for the most part, I truly admire people with large families, no matter how they were conceived.

Take the McCaughey septuplets, for example. If anyone is equipped to handle that many children, that woman certainly is, plus she has a great husband to boot. I followed that family with rapt interest. She gave birth right before I did almost 11 years ago. I remember because every time I would moan or complain about the 7 lb. 8 oz. baby growing inside me, my husband would say, “I bet Bobbi McCaughey is out plowing the fields right now.” He slept on the couch a lot.

When I was a girl, I imagined myself with a large family of four or more children. We settled on three, and even though I only have two at home, I still have trouble keeping up. For instance, we all went to the dentist recently and came home with little packets containing new toothbrushes and dental floss that were free with our $200 cleaning.

Later in the week, I remembered my new toothbrush and grabbed the closest sack. I noticed the top of the box was opened, but, not thinking anything about it, pulled it out and began using it.

Later in the week, my extremely neat and organized daughter came to me with the toothbrush in hand.

“Have you been using this?”


“This is my special toothbrush that the orthodontist gave me for my braces. See his name on the bottom?”

“It was in the box!” I said.

“Yes,” she said, patiently, as if talking to a child. “I put it back in the box when I’m done with it.”

“I’m sorry. It’s still good. I only used it a few times,” I said.

“That’s okay. You can have it. I have another one upstairs.”

“What are we going to do with you, Mom?” asked my son, patting me on the back and shaking his head with a serious expression, as if he were really contemplating it.

Maybe I should give Bobbi McCaughey a call. I'm sure she'd have some ideas.

Monday, February 2, 2009

From the outside looking in

My daughter took this picture several years ago as we drove a (rented) van through an animal safari. It helped me get my first article in Atlanta Parent Magazine.