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Checking It Twice

A few weeks ago, I was attending the bridal shower for my niece. When I told my 6 year old daughter I was going to Katie’s shower, her eyes widened. “MOM, what about her (her voice then drops to a whisper as she cups her hand to her mouth) privacy?”

Sitting next to me was my SIL, Trish. We were at the gift opening portion of the festivities. The Bride-To-Be took great care not to break any ribbons. You know the old wives tale, for each ribbon that you break, that’s how many children you will have.

No one told me about that old wives tale. Because at my shower, I tore into each gift with all the excitement of a 6 year old at Christmas. If the tale held true, I would have 18 children. And live in a shoe.

Another interesting tradition is that as each gift is opened, it is then passed around for each shower guest to admire. Or in my case, covet. Trish and I lingered over each piece of cookware, and paid extra special attention to anything Pampered Chef in nature.

Trish sighed and said, “I want new stuff.” After 10 years of marriage and three children each, our cookware has seen better days. We reminded one another what it was like to “register” for new stuff before our respective weddings. What a thrill to point the gun at whatever our little bridal hearts desired, procure the typed list, and presto, have it appear beautifully wrapped, and in mint condition.

Dutifully, we handed the gifts back to the bride-to-be. It could have been such an ugly scene if she had to wrestle the pizza stone away from us. Even if we are related to the bride-to-be, everyone there knew we wouldn’t be above such inappropriate behavior.

And then in a flash of brilliance, which she’s known to have after a glass of Merlot, Trish had an idea. “Why not? Why can’t we go register for gifts. How fun would that be?” I began tracking with her. “YES! We register for things we really want, and give the lists to our husbands. Who are always asking what we want anyway.”

I have yet to complete my list. But, Trish ran with the idea and registered at Wal Mart and Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Just the other day, her husband asked her what she wanted for her birthday. “Funny you should ask,” she said as she whipped out the file.

And now, with list in hand, he can purchase gifts for his wife year round. Gifts that she really wants. Because really, how many pairs of fuzzy house slippers does one need? (I’m using the example of the gifts my father gave my mother on this one.) This can encompass “Happy Birthday”, “Merry Christmas”, “I Love You and It’s Valentines Day”, “Happy Anniversary”, and “Thanks For Birthing All Of My Children.” Oh, and don’twfmwheader.jpg forget the occasional, “I’m Sorry, I Was Wrong Again” gift.

So, that’s my Works For Me Wednesday tip this week. An “I Wish, I Wish” list for the mommy. I’m getting started on mine, because I’ve been a very very good girl this year.

For more helpful tips, head over to Rocks In My Dryer.

Striking Below The Belt

If you’re not a television viewer, you’ll want to move on to another blog right about now.

I’m sure you’ve all heard in the news about the Writers Strike. Especially if you’re a fan of late night television. Let me tell you right up front that I am pro union. Especially the entertainment unions. I was a member of the Screennews.jpg Actors Guild for many years. And before that, I worked as a nonunion performer for a number of years. So, believe me, I’m behind the union.

I have a number of people close to me who are affected by any performer’s strike. So, I keep informed. And in the entertainment industry, if one faction strikes, it affects everyone. We’re seeing this with the Writer’s Strike.

The same thing happened nearly 20 years ago. Right when I was a youngish doe-eyed ingenue moving my scared self and my already angry cat into the throws of Los Angeles. That strike lasted 5 months. And forced me to become a Legal Secretary for a year.

On the bright side, my typing skills improved dramatically. Greatly enhancing my blogging skills some 20 odd years later.

But, I’m left with more than a few reservations about the legal system.

Friends and family are bracing for the long haul in this one. And I support them. Although, the thought of more reality television programming is enough to make me want to read more books. As well I should.

But, recently, a tidbit of news made me choke on my morning oatmeal. My beloved shows such as “24”, “Jericho”, and “Lost” may not be airing as expected come January and February.

That’s hitting below the belt, people.

It was bad enough to make us wait until the start of the new year, but to prolong the agony? I can’t even remember what Locke looked like? Or if he died. Or if I cared if he died.

I think there will be some serious backlash in the blogging community. We’re accustomed to airing our dirty linens, and we’ll let those tightwad producers know that we’re watching them.

Do the right thing! Pay those writers for all of the computer downloads of shows they’ve written. You’re getting advertising on them, for the love of pete.

How is this strike affecting you? Or how will it potentially affect you?

And if you say that you don’t watch any television, I’ll know that you’ve never watched Jack Bauer torture a terrorist, while wearing a smokin’ tight t-shirt.

And you’re really missing out. I’m just sayin’.

Roller Girls

About a year and a half ago, Emme began campaigning in earnest for the hottest craze to hit the prepubescent set since the skate board. I’m talking about those innocent enough looking sneakers that have wheels on the bottom. That’s right. Unless you’ve been in a cave, and no where near your local Wal Mart where kids glide and crash into the elderly on any given Sunday, you know that I’m talking about Heelys.

These are different than my white boot roller skates of the 70’s. The ones with the snazzy toe stop. For braking purposes. And a groovy red, white, and blue case, to transport them to the skating rink every Friday night. Where I heavily applied baby blue eye shadow in the bathroom. And btw, these gems reside at my dad’s house to this day, just waiting until one of my daughters’ are in need of size 7 roller skates.

They may remain in his attic for eternity, since roller skates are so “like last century, mom.”

When Emme first approached us about the idea of Heelys on her “I Wish, I Wish” Christmas list last year, we thought about it for all of 4 seconds before saying “NO.” I mean, it’s one thing to have wheels on the bottom of your shoes in a controlled environment. Like the Roller Derby. With handrails. And rules. But to set children free in malls and shopping stores, well, that’s a lawsuit waiting to be filed.

Wisely, we told her that we thought she was too young, and she would need to wait until she turned 12. The same year she will be allowed to pierce her ears. In other words, an infinity for a 7 year old.

My master plan also involved the idea that Heelys would be outlawed by then. Problem solved.

She hasn’t let up in her quest to procure the desired footwear. They’ve shown up on every gift wish list since last Christmas. Even her prayers were sprinkled with Heely requests. Her 8th birthday came and went a couple of weeks ago, with no Heelys. She often asks if she can go to the local sports shop just to visit the display.

Then the other night, Fiddledaddy e-mailed me a review of a knockoff product that Wal Mart was carrying for only $20.00. That’s considerably better than the $60.00 that most Heelys actually cost. SIXTY DOLLARS. I don’t even pay that much for my own footwear. And my feet have stopped growing. Except for the bunions. But that’s another post just crying out to be written.

I could tell that Emme was making a dent in Fiddledaddy’s armor. He was beginning to cave a bit. And around here I’m already known as the giant marshmallow.

And then, this weekend, we found ourselves heading to the mall to buy Junior footy pjs. We hadn’t been in a year or so. And lo and behold there was a brand new Dick’s Sporting Goods attached. Fiddledaddy said, as we were exiting the van, “Well, we may as well go inside and look at the Heelys.”

This wasn’t looking good.

Emme squealed with delight, and we descended upon the Heely display en masse. And what do you know? They were marked down to $39.99. We hunted for just the right sizes and color. Yes, I said sizes. Did you think we could get away with just one pair for one sister? Oh no. Both of my girls gleefully exited the store as proud owners of Heelys. And we left $80.00 lighter. Merry Christmas, Happy Belated Birthday, and yeah it’s Easter. Since we will be avoiding all of the recalled toys this year, we may have gotten off easy.

As we strolled the mall, we passed the Piercing Pagoda. I remarked to Fiddledaddy, “Well, we may as well let them get their ears pierced while we’re at it. And look honey, a free navel ring. Such a deal.”

Emme’s feet haven’t touched the ground since. And I don’t mean because of her beloved Heelys. She has been on her best behavior and has thanked us at least 249 times since Saturday. I’m hoping that will last at least a few more days. On Sunday, Fiddledaddy took Cailey shopping for full body armor. To protect her delicate knees, elbows, wrists, and head. While Emme is quite accomplished at “The Heely”, Cailey, unhappily, inherited her mother’s sense of balance.

As a post note, Fiddledaddy informed me (by e-mail) that he had ordered himself a pair of Heelys on-line, since the store didn’t carry his size. So that he could “bond” with his children.

I hear traction is a very bonding experience.

I’ll be spending the day today looking into upgrading our insurance.

And restocking my supply of Barbie bandages.

And cocktail mix.

It Would Seem I Ramble When Self Medicated

I’ve been wanting to sit down and post something all day. But I find that when I sit, my muscles (and I use that term loosely) harden, making it impossible to rise again. And lifting my arms to type on the the keyboard has just been out of the question. It’s only after a Tylenol PM that I’ve had enough mobility to try it.

So, I’m not responsible for content.

Twice this week I’ve been up at 4:45 AM to arrive promptly at the gym by 5:15 AM. Twice. And it’s only Wednesday. This morning we did the yoga DVD. I thought “piece of cake,” a little deep breathing, a little stretching, I’m home free.

Yoga is dead to me now. First of all, it’s not natural to expect someone to be able to twist into a pretzel, and still exhale. And what is that “dying dog” pose about, anyway?

It’s just wrong.

And worse, I’ve gained a pound.

But, let’s call it muscle. Which weighs more than fat, so I’ve heard.

I am very muscular.

No, I’m not giving up. Because as bad as I feel, it feels good to do something positive by way of relieving stress. Not that a handful of Almond Joys won’t do the same. I’m just sayin’.

In other news, there’s a bit of controversy brewing over the Homeschool Blog Awards site. Nominations have begun this week, and the rules were posted on Monday. A few of the kids in the schoolyard don’t care for the rules. And they are throwing bricks to display their displeasure.

Sigh.

I’m rather vocal about how I avoid conflict. I’ve made it an art form. My favorite coping technique. Which is why God paired me up with Fiddledaddy, I suppose. We balance each other out nicely. He would be captain of the debate team. While I’m the timid hall monitor. Avoiding the bricks. It’s bad, y’all. If I see a girl scout selling cookies, I will cross the street to avoid saying “no.” Well, that may have more to do with my complete absence of will power. Bad example.

I really do forget how protected I feel in my little corner of the blogosphere. My commenters are both homeschoolers and non-homeschoolers, and both Christian and secular. We’ve all found a common ground in that we love our kids, and feel the absolute necessity to laugh at life. To keep from crying in the coffee. You guys are fun. And you keep it clean, in case little eyes are peering over my shoulder.

Because I had to go and teach them to read.

I so appreciate all of you who regularly stop by. You inspire me. And make me laugh. And no one throws any bricks around here. I consider It Coulda Been Worse to be a family friendly blog. Even though I’ve been known to leap over the bounds of good taste. Blogs are a lot about a forum for expressing yourself, wherever you are in your life. Next week I may become really insightful. But I doubt it.

I’ve been privy to some of the more hateful comments that have been lobbed at the gals who put the Homeschool Blog Awards Site together. It’s been eye opening, ot say the least. I’ve followed a few links out of morbid curiosity, and I now wished I hadn’t.

The blogs I regularly visit are ones that are uplifting and inspiring. And really really funny. It’s a personal choice for me. Not something I would even begin to dictate to someone else. As far as the blog awards site goes, I’m just a contributor once a month, so I’m not one of the ones that are putting in all of the time and effort. Those ladies are awesome. They put so much of themselves into the site, and not just to put the awards on, but to support and uplift homeschoolers throughout the rest of the year.

Even within the homeschool community, we have different factions. And we all homeschool for different reasons. I so hope the ugliness that I’ve seen stops. Because, I think we can find a common ground in that we are putting considerable time and effort into our children’s education. And it’s all about the kids.

Coincidentally, I had one of my worst homeschool days ever today. And I began looking into boarding school for my children.

I’m only half kidding.

Military school seems a much better solution.

And that’s as controversial as I’m going to get on Tylenol PM.

Thank You Note, The Prequel

My MIL did indeed receive Cailey’s heartfelt thank you note from last week. She got quite a surprise and a really good chuckle out of it. I’m blessed to have a MIL with an extraordinarily good sense of humor. Then she did what any good grandmother would do under the circumstances. She hung it on the refrigerator.

I’m lying.

She placed it in a file. She keeps a file for all cards and letters worth saving, and when the child or grandchild reaches adulthood, they inherit the file. She’s a wise woman.

I started thinking about the kinds of things my own mother kept from our childhood. And it pretty much encompassed everything. She kept my grandfathers gold teeth after he died, for crying out loud. By the way, those same gold teeth now reside in a small envelope in my jewelry drawer. Along with my own childhood baby teeth.

For reasons that I cannot fathom, this really creeps Fiddledaddy out.

The day my mother died, I found myself having to sort through her desk to find important insurance paperwork. My mother’s method of filing was to stuff whatever she deemed important into any crevice that would hold such a document. In whatever part of the house that she happened to be. On this somber day, as I pulled bits and pieces of paper out of drawers, I came across something that I had given her when I was a Catholic schoolgirl of about 8. It was a paper card listing the penance for my misdeeds. On the front I had colored in crayon, a cross, and what kind of looks like a manger. Or a birds nest, I can’t be sure. On the inside was the following laundry list:

To Mom and Dad,

3 Masses
3 Holy Communions
10 Our Fathers
10 Hail Marys
10 Ejaculations

The quiet of the room of mourners was interrupted. Tears began to fly from my eyes as I fell to the floor in a heap. Racked with inappropriate laughter. As I passed this Holy document around the room, I was joined by my mother’s family and close friends.

What I had forgotten, since it had been a few decades since I’d entered the sanctity of the confessional, is that “ejaculations” is a Catholic term for “short burst of prayer.”

Allrightythen.

And my mother kept this tattered piece of paper, I’m sure, to give to me when I had my own children. Children she would not live to meet. Although, on that day that my mother died, and I found that childhood card that she had been keeping for over 30 years, I was carrying a very tiny fetus that would grow up to be called “Emme.” So really, my own penance for all the grief that I gave my parents, are my own three exasperating children. Perfect.

I took that note that my mother had saved and I did what any good mother would do. I hung it on my fridge.

Oh yes I did.

Working It Out

Exercise.

It’s good for you.

You’ll feel better.

I hate exercise.

Pfffftttthhhht.

Sadly, however, I’ve reached that magical age that I will not lose another single pound unless exercise accompanies eating healthy.

Bite me.

I started going to the gym with 3 of my SIL’s a couple of years ago. My BIL is a personal trainer and has a studio, and we can use the space before hours. So, we met there at 5:15 am and worked out for about an hour, three times a week. And I use the term “work out” loosely, because our regiment involved mostly sitting on the exercise bike and laughing until we either peed, or fell off.

But then, about a year and a half ago, Jensen stopped sleeping through the night. On the bright side, the nightly rendezvous were a good source of blog fodder. But sadly, I stopped meeting up with my SIL’s at the gym, vowing I would instead get on my treadmill. Which I did.

Once.

Fast forward to last week. Dare I say it, but Jensen is sleeping through most nights, and I surprised my SIL, also known as Aunt Trish, by showing my weary face at the gym at 5:15. But the girls had a little surprise for me. It seems that they’ve gotten all serious about their workouts. And Trish purchased a DVD series from Beachbody.com which will transform a different area of your body with each workout. Killing you in the process.

Now, she had two options for workout series. A) the one for decrepit, older, out of shape types, or B) one for intrepid athletes.

She opted for B.

Oh happy day.

Not to be outdone, I jumped in with both feet. So last Friday, after a cardio warm up on the bikes and stairclimber, we tackled lunges, squats and other such methods of torture.

When I dragged my weary middle aged body through the front door at 6:30 am last Friday, taking great care to avoid the plague of frogs at our entry way, Fiddledaddy was waiting for me.

“So, how did you do?”

“I hope you don’t mind serving me while I recline on the couch all day,” I mumbled as I found my way to the hot shower.

Trish called me later in the morning, “How are you feeling?”

“Well, I find that I have to keep moving, because if I slow, rigor mortus sets in. I’m eating all of my meals in transit. Can’t wait for next week.”

Friday night I slept with not one, but two ice packs. One for my lower abs. And one that rested on the top of my head to soothe my headache. Because the children spent the day working out my last nerve.

And now, after pilfering through the children’s halloween booty, I have no choice but to continue. So, I’ve concluded that I’m going to have to invest in a full length body ice pack, a case of Ben Gay, and an industrial size bottle of extra strength Tylenol.

Oh yes, and a rifle to take care of the creepy frogs that are waiting to pounce on me at dark thirty on workout days.

Saturday Stirrings: Pumpkin Pancakes

It’s official. Fall has finally arrived here in Armpit, Florida. This morning I opened the front door and was greeted with COOL air. Not cold, but COOL. A welcome change from the hot sauna type air that usually takes my breath away. And not in a good way.

I walked the children out to the van so that Fiddledaddy could take them to McDonalds to score a large vat of coffee for the tired mommy. I threatened to do the annual “underwear dance” which accompanies the first morning of cooler weather. The children sped it up and hopped into the van, and Fiddledaddy peeled out in a hurry. Leaving me standing in the driveway in my pjs. Chuckling. Enjoying the cool air. And peace and quiet.

My thoughts turned to breakfast. Immediately, this recipe for Pumpkin Pancakes came to mind. I got this recipe from The Abundant Life last year and it has been one of my favorites. Especially around the holidays.

Pumpkin Pancakes

Dry Ingredients:
2 C. King Arthur All-Natural Whole Wheat Flour
2 T. Packed Brown Sugar (I substitute Splenda)
1 T. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. each of Cinnamon, Ground Cloves, Nutmeg, and Ginger (OR substitute 2 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice)

Wet Ingredients:
1 12 oz. Can Evaporated Milk (I use the fat-free version)
1 C. Milk
1/2 C. Canned Pumpkin (can freeze the leftover pumpkin)
1 Large Egg
2 T. Canola Oil

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Combine wet ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Add wet ingredients to the dry and stir until moistened. Batter may be lumpy, but then, so is the cook. No judgment. If the batter seems too thick, add a bit of milk or water. Heat griddle or skillet over medium heat and give it a shot of cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cup of the batter onto the hot griddle and cook until they burst into flames the bubbles begin to burst. Then flip and cook through.

When cooled, these freeze really well. Although, very few actually make it into our freezer.

I’ve been known to serve these for dinner. I’ve also substituted a scoop of protein powder replacing a scoop of whole wheat flour.

Keep your eyes open. In the next couple of weeks, there will be some changes to Saturday Stirrings. A chance to join in on the fun. Just in time for the holidays.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Halloween Is Not For Sissies

My children anxiously await a yearly event at our church on Halloween night. They host “Trunk or Treat” for the children in our area. Cars are lined up, with elaborately decorated trunks and festive characters ready to dispense candy to little trick or treaters as they stroll by. It is a most awesome idea.

Last year we attended, and the event was held outdoors. The kids talked about it all year. So, imagine the disappointment when my Emme developed a fever the afternoon of the 31st. She immediately took to her deathbed to ward off further illness. Vowing that if she took a nap, all would be right with the world.

It appeared to work, because by mid-afternoon, she was feeling better. We decided it would be okay to go if Aunt Trish brought her little red wagon, so we could wheel Emme around so as to not overdo it. The house was abuzz with excitement as Cailey donned her princess ballerina fairy costume, Emme climbed into her karate gee, and Jensen was dressed as a 3 foot tall basketball star. Trish made costumes for us. We went as SuperMom. I wore my Superman pj bottoms, a glittery “S” on my chest, and a red cape that read “Super Mom”, lest anyone be confused. “Are those your pajamas?” Fiddledaddy queried, as I climbed into the van.

Like I never wear my pajamas in public.

Emme lasted in the little red wagon about 5 minutes. The skies were threatening rain, so most of the event had been moved indoors. Except for the trunks. Of the cars. A long line had formed so the kids could collect their booty before the skies opened up. We adults tried our best to keep things moving along. My Cailey stopped at each trunk and quizzed the occupants about the peanut content of their particular bowl of candy. “I’m allergic,” she explained to each and every car owner, while batting her bright blue eyes. I stood behind her hollering, “CAILEY, GO FOR THE REESES, SO MOMMY HAS SOMETHING TO LIVE FOR!

We all then moved indoors. With the other sardines. The bouncy houses, slides, and games were in our sanctuary. I heard that there was a promise of Starbucks Coffee and hotdogs indoors as well. Since I’m extremely claustrophobic, that was the only thing getting me in those doors.

We all split up with various offspring and cousins. Divide and conquer seemed our only safe option. The lines were long, the air was stagnate, and the Starbucks was gone. Supermom Trish and I looked at one another holding our children’s various costume pieces, shoes, prizes, and bags of candy. Like pack mules. Check please.

Finally, Fiddledaddy and I decided to grab our children and make a break for it. Besides, Jensen, who doesn’t care for enclosed spaces, had lost his sense of decorum two migraines ago.

One bright note to the evening is that Fiddledaddy and I discovered that if we made loud animal noises over the walkie-talkies, we could embarrass our children.

Good times.

On the way home we stopped at Wendy’s so that we could feed the children something nutritious. And we added chocolate frostys because we didn’t have nearly enough sugar in the car.

After the children had climbed into their pjs, Emme began complaining that she didn’t feel well again. And no, I didn’t give her any Halloween candy. Just the Frosty. And that may have been what sent her over the abyss. She was sitting on my bed telling her daddy that the Tylenol chewables in the bubble gum flavor would make her throw up.

He’s gonna believe her next time.

I heard the rumbling. And the hurried attempt to scoop her up and get her into the bathroom. All in vain. I entered the room and followed the trail of chocolate frosty, mixed with chicken nuggets, fries, and bathroom floor hair. While Fiddledaddy deposited our girl into the tub for a much needed soak, I was left to clean up the mess. While gagging.

And still wearing my red supermom cape.

Perfect.

Oh well. What’s Halloween without a little carnage, after all.