Friday, May 30, 2014

An English Teacher's Pet Peeve

Users of Facebook, please take note: 

I understand that not everyone is an English major or a grammar nerd but surely everyone knows about periods and really even commas should be common knowledge after all punctuation is taught in elementary school middle school and high school but even worse is when a word gets tossed out that should have an apostrophe but doesnt get one so a  word like were becomes were and see you cant even tell the difference because now they look exactly the same even though one means we are and the other is the past tense of are before long the capital letters are replaced with all lowercase because really why should i bother capitalizing anything if im not going to use punctuation thats just silly and now that im not doing nething else rite i mite as well jus start m8king words shorter and jus type like i wuld text cuz that wuld save me lots of time 2 so u c that it dusnt take long 4 sum1 2 really bcum 


Seriously, are we all slowly morphing into giddy junior high girls? It doesn’t matter whether you have a doctorate from Harvard or if you dropped out of high school, could you please be proud of the education that you have received and USE IT?

I am a busy mom, and the small amount of time I spend on Facebook is my way of unwinding. It is meant to be a mindless, and therefore relaxing, activity. So when I have to spend 10 minutes deciphering a 3-line status update, it pretty much ruins the whole experience for me. If I had wanted to decipher things, I would have picked up an Agatha Christie novel and tried to figure out “whodunnit”.

If you are a street-talk, jive-talk, text typer, please don’t think I am judging you. I’m simply… well, yes. I am judging you. I am really sorry about that. Would you please brush up on your punctuation skills? It would really help me contain my judgmental tendencies.

Thank you.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

This is SO MUCH FUN!!!

As the antithesis to my last post, I thought I would mention some things that are 100% MORE FUN than they were pre-children. This is partly because it was suggested by a friend, partly because it makes me appear less negative about my kids, and partly because it gives me an opportunity to use the word “antithesis”. Win-win-win.

(if you're interested in the not-so-fun list, read my previous post Do You Remember When This Was Fun?)


1.      HOUSEWORK!

I have never enjoyed cleaning. Because I’m not a freak. Now, obviously, I have always done what is necessary to make my home livable, but it’s out of duty only. (Well, duty and peer-pressure. I wouldn’t want my friends to have to wear a Hazmat suit to visit.) I certainly do not clean because I enjoy it. I do not find it to be stress-relieving, or fun, or even to give me a sense of accomplishment. It’s just one of those awful things that is required of adults, and I do it with gritted teeth as I dream of my home in Glory where there will be no need for cleaning products.

Enter children.

It is incredible how much fun kids think cleaning is! I don’t know why we even bother purchasing Christmas and birthday gifts. I could seriously hand my kids a Swiffer and a Dust Buster instead, and they would think they had won the jackpot. I made the mistake once of sweeping and mopping while the kids napped, and all heck broke loose. Andy was mad at me for the rest of the evening because he had missed his chance to help.

I’ve actually broken down and purchased a second Swiffer so that Andy can mop with me, and I foresee a third Swiffer in the near future—our last mopping episode resulted in physical violence as Finnick tried to wrestle said Swiffer out of Andy’s hands, and Andy began using it as a weapon to keep Finnick away. If they are still fighting over who gets to sweep/mop when they are teens, I will consider myself to be a very lucky mama.

And it’s not just floors! Andy and Finnick both love to pick up trash and throw it away. They have literally had fights over who gets to pick up the last diaper off the ground and put it into the trash bag. Because, obviously, picking up poopy diapers is SO MUCH FUN! It’s practically basketball, but more extreme. After all, if you miss the basket in basketball, no big deal. But if you miss the trash bag and that diaper comes un-rolled… well, that could be bad.

And I’ve got to admit—cleaning isn’t so bad when you’re doing it with a kid who thinks it’s awesome.


Pre-children, car rides were simply about getting from one place to the next. A necessity, and that’s all. I took approximately the same route every day, so there was nothing new to see, nor is there much you can do in a car while operating it since you’re kind of supposed to be watching traffic. Every day was pretty much ho-hum boring, and I mostly viewed that time as wasted.

Now, car rides are THE MOST EXCITING THING EVER! There’s so much to SEE (A fire hydrant! A plane! A dead skunk! A fire truck! A motorcycle! A water tower!...), there’s so much to DO (Let’s sing! Let’s count! Let’s rhyme! Let’s ride with the windows down! Let’s find shapes in the clouds!...), there’s so much to EXPLORE (What’s that? And that? And that? And that?...)! There are never two car rides alike. And I am amazed at how many things my kids point out when we’re on the road that I have never noticed, nor would I have ever noticed. Little things, big things, weird things, common-place things—they aren’t really picky. Because EVERYTHING is new and wonderful and awe-inspiring.

It’s refreshing to see things through their eyes.

3.      WAL-MART!

I’m not going to lie—I have always loved Wal-Mart. I don’t care if it is jam-packed and there’s never enough cashiers, even at 3:00 a.m.. I am addicted. I mean, seriously, you can find anything at Wal-Mart. Anything in the entire world. It is like the Swiss Army Knife of stores.

With children, Wal-Mart is even more amazing. I did not know that was possible.

My kids LOVE Wal-Mart. As in, they get excited when we load up in the car to go to Wal-Mart. As in, they play “Let’s shop at Wal-Mart!” at home with their little shopping cart and cash register. As in, Andy recognizes the landmarks surrounding Wal-Mart and will request to go there if we’re within a 10-mile radius.


Because Wal-Mart has cheap chicken strips in the deli that you can eat while you shop! And they have bicycles on display all year-round that you can “test drive”! And they have a water fountain that is the exact height needed if you are strapped into a buggy yet need a drink and your mama is too big-fat-pregnant to lift you up to the fountain while you guzzle for five minutes! And there’s a bathroom at the front AND the back of the store, so you can actually pee twice in the same trip and get to use TWO DIFFERENT restrooms! And they store their beach balls in giant bins that stretch 20 feet in the air! And while you’re looking at the balls, you’ll always see at least one “Clearance” balloon that got away and is stuck on the ceiling!


4.      WATER!

Sure, everyone enjoys a nice, cool pool in the hot summer months or a long, hot bath after a long, hard day. But other than that, I had never really given water much thought. You drink it, you bathe in it, end of story.

For my children, however, any water source is automatically FUN—water in the sink, water in the bathtub, water fountains, splash pads, puddles… Any water will do. Finnick is still in the “fascination stage”, trying to figure out how in the world that water is appearing out of that faucet right now when earlier there was nothing there, and why in the world can’t he CATCH IT?! Andy is more into filling up containers and then dumping them back out, over and over and over, just to watch the way it flows. Both think it’s their job to splash ALL water as far and wide and high as humanly possible. And if anyone in the house is taking a bath/shower, they can expect two little boys to be stripping down naked right next to them, trying to crowd their way in.

I absolutely cannot wait until my kids are old enough to go to a full-fledged water park! It is going to be SO. MUCH. FUN!

5.      ANIMALS!

I’m not one of those people who think that pets are people, but I do like animals. Or, more specifically, mammal animals, usually in the form of dogs and cats. True, I can’t stand to see a starving stray on the side of the road (my husband has long made fun of me about the amount of strays I have brought home over the years), but still we’ve managed to keep the pets down to only one black lab.

My children are true animal-enthusiasts.

I cannot tell you how many times I have been nearly startled into a heart attack by a random, full-blown scream out of nowhere, run frantically to the child producing the scream expecting to see blood or a missing limb, only to see him point and yell, “SQUIRREL!” or “BIRD!”

The first few times, I thought, “Seriously? There are a MILLIION squirrels and birds! There’s nothing exciting about squirrels and birds!”

Now, after about 2 ½ years of this, I find myself holding up traffic in the Wal-Mart parking lot to point out that there is a PIGEON perched on top of a HANDICAP PARKING SIGN. I mean, really, how cool is that? There is NO LEDGE on a handicap sign, and there’s this big, fat pigeon sitting there like he’s all comfortable!

No? Not incredibly interesting to you? Not worth being run over just for a chance to witness such awesomeness? Huh.

Well, how about butterflies? Turtles? Dogs? Rabbits? Skunks? Cats? Ants? Because any one of those can halt all activity and conversation for an immediate inspection. And I have been completely sucked into the fascination of it all.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Do You Remember When This Was Fun?

Going out just isn’t the same once you have children. Things that used to be relaxing and enjoyable become migraine-inducing nightmares. Unfortunately, my husband and I always seem to forget the trauma the latest outing induced, so by golly, we get excited about going out all over again. And every time, about half-way through, we’ll make eye contact and one of us will say, “Do you remember when this used to be fun?”

Do you remember when eating out used to be fun?
Oh, how I enjoyed a good restaurant back before children! Hot food delivered directly to our table while we gazed into each other’s eyes and had meaningful conversation; people who were paid to wait on us hand and foot and to say lies like “my pleasure!” while doing it; more paid people to clean away our dirty dishes, wipe down our table, and vacuum the floor… It was heavenly!

It is no longer heavenly. It is hellish. 

Hot food is stone-cold by the time I finish cutting up food for two, blowing on food for two, inserting straws and fitting lids for two, taking steak knives away from two, then rushing one to the potty for an emergency bathroom break.  Meaningful conversation has been replaced with reminding the children not to turn around and sing to the people sitting in the booth behind us, or to crawl under the table, or to throw the food they’ve decided they don’t want onto the floor. Even the sweetest waitress cannot manage to fake pleasure at our visit once she’s witness the amount of food smeared all over the table and dropped on the floor for her to clean up later, and she spends the entire time mopping up the kids’ spilled drinks and bringing extra napkins rather than re-filling my Dr. Pepper. I am pretty sure the entire staff high-fives and buys each other a round of drinks when we walk out the door.

And these things happen every single time. Guaranteed. Without fail. 

But every now and then, there’s some additional fun. For instance, the boys took me out for a special lunch on Mothers’ Day. As soon as our drinks were served, Andy reached into my water glass and fished out my lemon wedge. That didn’t gross me out at all because he had definitely not been picking his nose on the way to the restaurant. He sucked and licked all over it for a couple of minutes, got bored with it, then chucked it back into my glass. Not to be out-done, Finnick waited for our food to arrive, then continually dropped bright red spaghetti noodles onto my sandal-clad feet throughout the entire meal. (Yes—on purpose.) And being seven months pregnant and unable to reach my feet or move them elsewhere, there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. Kids=2, Parents=0.  

Will I remember this at Fathers’ Day? Of course not. We’ll march our happy little family right into another unsuspecting restaurant and do this all over again.

Do you remember when going to the movies used to be fun?
Ah, the movies! Giant tubs of popcorn and massive cups of Mr. Pibb while Hollywood’s finest ushered us into a fantastical world of romance and adventure; special visual effects on a 30-foot screen and surround sound turned up to maximum volume; holding hands in the dark and snuggling close during the tense moments… It was heavenly!

Not anymore.

Cinematic masterpieces have been replaced with G-rated, animated cartoons, and the most exciting moment is when I finally identify the actors doing the voices of the main characters. The popcorn is tainted by little hands that have been licked repeatedly before being shoved back into the tub, and my Mr. Pibb has been swapped out for Sprite so that it can be shared with an already hyped-up preschooler. I will spend the majority of the show reminding my children to sit down and stop hanging on the seats in front of them, or answering questions about what’s going to happen next, or trying to find Finnick’s pacifier in the dark that has rolled five or six aisles down. And I am guaranteed to miss the climax of the movie because I will be in the restroom for the fourth time with my Sprite hogger. 

Will I remember this experience the next time Pixar puts out a new ad? Absolutely not. We’ll load up the whole happy family and pay the theater $40 so that we can consume five bucks worth of popcorn and sprite and use dirty public restrooms. 

Do you remember when concerts used to be fun?
Woo hoo—live concerts! Our favorite musicians on a stage so close that you can see them clearly on the jumbo tron; the camaraderie of the surrounding fans who know the words to every song just like we do; hoping to get in line early enough for an autograph and a photo… Heavenly! 

We don’t even attempt those anymore.

However, with a band director for a husband and an international student in the high school choir, we are destined to attend school concerts if not professional ones. With one child, I began to opt for the very back row and an aisle seat, just in case of a meltdown or diaper situation. I couldn’t see worth a flip, but at least I could exit quickly if needed. With two children, I don’t even pick a seat. I know up front that I won’t occupy it long enough to bother.

With it being May and school coming to an end, we have had a whopping THREE concerts in the past two weeks. The first was a jazz band concert that was held outdoors. Knowing that we would be a distraction otherwise, I opted to sit at the top of the hill, practically on the curb of the parking lot, rather than down inside the actual amphitheater so that we could remain unseen behind the crowd. Naturally, that backfired. Andy and Finnick both yelled “Daddy!” and waved in between every song; Andy insisted on dancing on top of the blanket, which kept getting twisted around his feet and making him fall; and Finnick kept trying to walk down the very steep slope to get the stage. I spent the entire hour shushing and trying to keep my children from falling over the edge of the “cliff” to their deaths. I have no recollection of the concert itself. 

The very next week was the regular band concert, held inside the gym. Again, with the chair set-up, I was able to hang behind the crowd unseen. But not unheard! My children chased each other back and forth, tripped their way across the bottom step of the bleachers where they banged into the metal below, and fought over who could push the giant metal cart that holds all the folding chairs. By concert’s end, Finnick was screaming, and Andy was talking over him, asking me to help him get a drink out of the water fountain for the hundredth time. 

Two days later was the choir concert. I went alone.   

Do you remember when “date night” with your spouse was fun?
Actually going OUT is a thing of the past, but my children manage to ruin even the date nights we attempt at home. If we’re going to watch a movie after the kids are in bed, you can bet Andy’s going to get up every five minutes for a short visit and a re-tuck. And if romance is in the air, you can bet that Finnick is going to choose that moment to wake up screaming and need a pacifier recovery team. I swear my kids can smell romance the way some animals can smell fear, and they immediately attack and try to kill it dead. More than likely, we’ll give up on the movie about half-way in, and we'll wind up with a three-year-old sleeping in between us. Ooh, spicy.  

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Pregnancy-- The Ugly Truth

Pregnancy is not beautiful.

Babies are beautiful. Hearing the heartbeat on the monitor is beautiful. Feeling those first flutters of movement is beautiful. Coming up with the perfect name, decorating the nursery, finding out the baby’s gender, looking for family features on the 3-D ultrasound photos… all beautiful.

But pregnancy—not so much. 

And I will never understand the backlash for admitting this fact. The entire pregnancy and birthing process is a 9-month torture meant to remind us of the sins of Eve. Guess what people—it isn’t sunshine and daisies and rainbows! It’s uncomfortable and embarrassing and hideous, just as it was designed to be. 

Now, there are women who will go to the grave claiming that they loved being pregnant, insisting it was the best time of their lives, and that anyone who doesn’t think pregnancy is simply amazing is a horrible shrew who doesn’t deserve to even have children. Go ahead—post a pregnancy complaint on Facebook and see what happens.

It is my opinion that those people are ridiculous. And really, the memory of the whole pregnancy experience becomes a little blurry after that beautiful baby is born. So if it's been more than 24 hours since you were pregnant, you have relinquished the right to judge.

Here are just a few reasons why I don’t buy into all the “beautiful” spewed by no-longer-pregnant mamas:

1.      Pregnancy body changes are not beautiful. Sure, there’s that cute little baby bump, although I’m pretty sure even that is really only fun for skinny girls. I had not been skinny for many moons prior to becoming pregnant, so it is less exciting to watch my big gut grow even bigger. But no matter how great someone might think that weight gain is, I doubt many women get excited about those elephant ankles or the feet that have outgrown every single pair of shoes in the closet. Then you’ve got the painful cantaloupe boobs, swollen fingers, broken hair, weakened abdominal muscles, and the infamous stretch marks. Plus, if you get to experience a C-Section, like I have, you get the extra joy of 3-inch scar. I would bet that even the takers of the 40 weeks-worth of the notorious sports-bra-and-low-rise-yoga-pants belly pictures don’t enjoy all those extra perks. If they did, we would see weekly photographic ankle/boob updates. 

2.      Insomnia is not beautiful. Not only are the big, purple circles under the eyes not the most attractive, but neither is the psychotic woman who emerges due to sleep deprivation. You can blame many of the sleep issues on all the physical changes mentioned above. But let’s not fail to mention the addition of nighttime baby gymnastics, bladder pressure, and, my personal favorite, HEARTBURN. I am convinced that if a person could die of heartburn, I would be in the grave. And this is not the kind that can be cured by popping a couple of chalk tablets. This is a whole new level of Hades that makes me feel like puking my guts up. But Heaven forbid I actually give in to the gag reflexes because vomiting produces more… you guessed it! HEARTBURN.

3.      Pregnant noises are not beautiful. The irony of pregnancy is that when I do finally manage to overcome the insomnia, I just wake myself right back up again with my supersonic, run-away freight train, could raise the dead from their graves SNORING. Seriously, I don’t know how the neighbors aren’t banging on the door and begging me to keep it down. The only positive is that pregnancy is the one time that I can get even with my husband, who not only snores like a freight train himself, but also wakes me frequently with his sleep-walking. It might be petty, but I get a small bit of satisfaction when he has to ask ME to roll over.

4.      Pregnancy smells are absolutely NOT beautiful. Seriously, I toot more than my toddlers do, and they have no qualms about it. I, on the other hand, spend 90% of my time out in public squirming uncomfortably and BEGGING God to protect me from the embarrassment of being pin-pointed as the culprit. On the up side, my prayer life has increased ten-fold.

5.       Having the physical energy and abilities of a 90-year old quadriplegic stroke victim is not beautiful. Never have I had to take so many rest breaks during the day. Never have I been so powerless to shave my own legs or cut my own toe nails. Never have I moved so slowly yet been so out of breath. NEVER. Regular fatness and out of shape-ness do not even begin to compete. My body has lost all flexibility and endurance. It is absolutely disgraceful. But even more disgraceful—I can’t find it in me to care. All I care about is sitting down, propping my feet up, and catching my breath. So what if my toe nails are ten inches long, my legs look like a yeti, and in 8 hours I only managed to wash one load of clothes? I’m pregnant, for Pete’s sake! Go ahead and judge me for being in complete physical disarray and for living in a messy house that’s unfit for trolls. I do not care. I. DO. NOT. CARE.  

But despite my distaste for most of pregnancy, and my refusal to refer to it as “magical” or “beautiful”, I am obviously overjoyed that I will soon have another little one running around my house! So allow me to give credit where credit is due:

Thank you, God, for the sweet beauty of babies! If You didn’t make them so cute, no one in their right mind would go through pregnancy more than once. The post-pregnancy mind swipe is a nice touch, too. Very well-played. 

And thank you, Eve, for the role you played in drawing the baby-growing process out for a full 9-months and making every second of it such an adventure. You’re a real peach.