Monday, February 28, 2011

SPRING Streamlining! JOIN ME!

 Spring Cleaning doesn't usually happen in my house is my favorite activity

OK. That's not really my house but it sure makes my house look SPOTLESS! LOL!

I clean. I just don't do the toothbrush version that some moms do. I usually clean the outside of the windows and organize a few closets and drawers and call it Spring Cleaning.

This year I am, starting TODAY, SPRING STREAMLINING!

I am categorizing the hours in my day so I am more productive both in good health and in our home.

If everyone is healthy and going to school, I have an empty house from 8:30 am - 1:00pm. That's 4 1/2 hours a day to be productive. Of course I can still fold laundry and do dishes when the kids are home but those 4+ hours are UNINTERRUPTED hours and if you are a mom, you know that is GOLDEN!

So, when the last kiddo hops on the bus @ 8:30, I have devoted that first hour to exercise. This morning I walked (in the rain) for an hour and 10 minutes. (9:30) I have Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred and we have the JUST DANCE 2 Wii game. I will be juggling these as my mood suits.

The second hour I am tackling a project or cleaning. This morning I gutted my youngest's room and put it back together. Some stuff is going to Goodwill, some went to the garbage, sheets were stripped and I vacuumed up a ton of crumbs and junk. (10:30)

The third hour will be MY CREATIVE time. This is when I will work on one of my manuscripts, do some illustrating, catch up on my scrap booking, make some jewelry... in other words, an hour of PURE JOY! (11:30)

The fourth hour and the extra half will be the discretionary hour. Grocery shopping, paperwork and correspondence, out to lunch with hubby, running errands, heading to Barnes & Noble, etc. (1:00)

I am NOT a scheduled person - I HATE living by the clock. But, I have seen over and over in my life,  my
To-Do list just grows and grows and things fall by the wayside and I don't pay attention to what I need to be focusing on.

These hours I have constructed are still guided by the clock but as you see I have choices within those hours to suit the mood and give me an option for having each day be different from the one before.

Want to join me?
Leave a comment and let's start STREAMLINING, together!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The MOM Show Episode #2 (re-run)

I used to have my own show.

This was my favorite episode.

Thought I'd share.

I have other episodes on THIS CHANNEL if you think you'd like.

Peace out, Mamas!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Another RANT about music lyrics...

"What's a menage a trois?"

Now that's a question you don't expect while grilling up some black bean burgers...

But when your child forgets to have you to approve the iTunes list - THIS is what your conversations revolve around.

Needless to say, that song is GONE!

Just last week I sang Katy Perry's praises, today I ripped her song from one of the iPods in our home.

Ladies and Gentlemen, here is my new and improved LYRICS FROM THE SOAPBOX!

Rhianna's S & M (now from THAT title, you should KNOW, right?)
Enrique Iglesias TONIGHT (this version is OK, just know that the chorus in the original version does not say "tonight I'm loving you" - replace the L-word in that phrase with the F-word) Enrique? REALLY?
Cee-Lo Green's FORGET YOU (once again - this F-word ..."Forget" is not the same F-word in the original song. Yes, the original song is called F*** YOU!

How long do I spend looking at song lyrics? Hours.

How many times have I contacted the school, coaches, teachers about songs my children are hearing while in their care? Too many.

How often have I talked to my kids' friends about the awful messages today's music sends? Quite often.

My kids spirits, minds and bodies? Priceless.

Just an FYI, here are some other links to popular songs over the last year - be sure to take a look, you might be surprised what they are REALLY SAYING!

Black Eyed Peas' IMMA BE
Rhianna's RUDE BOY
Kevin Rudolf's LET IT ROCK

Now, please keep in mind...
These are songs that are played on the radio...there are songs EVEN WORSE than these that your kids can easily get on their iPods.

I have had people bash me in the comments section saying I am a crazed psychopath mom who hovers too closely to her children's business...

Here's my response...
Until the are 18 years old, their business IS MY BUSINESS! What is on their facebook, in their emails, getting pumped through iPods, notes in pockets...and so on and so on...

They are my responsibility.
Sure it would be WAY easier to say, "It's none of my business." Would save me a whole SNOT-load of time to NOT be so careful of what they are exposed to...

But they are my responsibility.
They are precious gifts entrusted to me to do my very best to raise them to be productive members of society. RESPECTED members of society.

I guarantee you this type of music is where SELF-RESPECT starts breaking down.
What goes in, comes out.
Think about it.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this matter.

Peace out, Mamas!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A full plate and a life's purpose...

No, I am not at an ALL YOU CAN EAT buffet. That actually sounds good until I remember all the things that VEGANS don't eat and I realize that would be a STUPID waste of money! LOL!

I am talking about the proverbial "mom plate" - No! Not the one with the grilled cheese crusts and soggy goldfish crackers - FOLLOW ME PEOPLE, I feel like I am talking to my headphone-wearing teenagers!

As moms, we all wear lots of hats. For the last 14 years, my hat has been the one of STAY-AT-HOME mom - anyone knows that is a REALLY big hat because it holds EVERYTHING you do in ONE category. I would never say that I do more or have more stress than a working mom. A working mom just has more hats...doesn't make it a contest.

I am itching to move into new hats - and I don't know if I am emotionally ready for what that means. But before I can decide if I can mentally handle a new responsibility, I need to decide WHAT that responsibility is...

Let me explain...

My passions are simple - Christian, wife, mom, teacher.
That's it.
Plain and simple, right?

Besides being a mom, my most rewarding job ever was teaching Art in Room 62 at Vestal Senior High School and Room 120 at Vestal Middle School from Fall 1993- Fall 1997. At that time, I didn't have children and those kids I saw each day, those who cried in my room during lunch, those who spilled their guts to me, those I lost to suicide, those I still talk to today were my first kids. All couple hundred of them!

The trouble is, I now crave that feeling with a LARGER group of kids than those that take art class in middle or high school.

And that's why I WRITE!
And 5 years ago I started the journey to publication.

So, while I write and submit to agents and publishers, network with fellow writers and work on the many manuscripts that speak to me from the files I get drawn in to other projects that are also in the teaching vein.

*writing a teen program on RESPECT that will travel to schools, churches, teen centers
*teaching a summer art program
*writing more teen subjects
*counselling teens online
*blogging for parents (moms)
*writing and illustrating emergent reader books
*considering applying for adjunct art positions at local universities

...and the list goes on...

Catch that!
Oops it's dripping!
I just made a mess, didn't I?
When I close my eyes what do I see myself doing - if I could control my own destiny, which I believe I have a part in...

((((((((((((((((((insert dreamy music and wavy visuals here))))))))))))))))))

I see myself (and this is the truth) standing on stage in an auditorium.
I have a microphone.
And I have goosebumps.
I can feel the energy of the kids tuning in to what I have to say.
I can hear nothing.
The room is silent except for my voice.
Their eyes are on me and their minds are open.
Their hearts are mending.
Their brains are inspired.
There is applause.
My book is handed to each student as they leave the auditorium.

((((((((((((((dreamy music and wavy visuals again)))))))))))))))))))

Don't tell my husband this -
but I don't care if I ever make a CENT touching the lives of teens.

It truly is my destiny and my focus.
I just have trouble not saying "yes" to EVERY thing that falls into that category.

An agent taking a chance on me would REALLY help me focus!

So, that's it...back to square one...what I started doing 5 years ago - trying to find the needle (right manuscript) in the haystack (perfect agency/publishing house).

So, tell me.
What would complete YOU?
What is YOUR purpose while you are on this planet?

Peace out, Mamas!

Monday, February 21, 2011

The chaos I find at Barnes & Noble...

I had a delightful and creative date with myself @ Barnes & Noble on Sunday...I am re-posting why I sooooo appreciated my morning... I don't have a lot of luck finding a quiet corner when I go.
Ha ha ha. This previously posted story makes me giggle! And don't miss the link to a story posted previous to this one...I couldn't make this stuff up!


After dinner we (my hubby and I) headed to my favorite place to relax in the world...BARNES & NOBLE! But, now do you remember WHAT THE HECK happened the LAST time I thought B&N was a good idea? Well, if you are new or you just don't remember, remind yourself here.

This time, Ken and I grabbed some books and magazines and sat at a little cafe table to read and flirt with each other. (yes, 15 years later, we are still goofy-giddy-newlyweds!) But, veg-time is completely dependent on WHO you sit next to...HOLY CRIPES!

Next time I will pick the seat b/c Ken pulled up a chair right next to ...let's call her Margaret. I don't know her name but I know every creepy thing about her life. This woman should be in therapy. And then her therapist should seek therapy!

Margaret was chatting with her all started with this question, "So, how do the Quaker's feel about violence, like defending yourself?" For those of you who are not aware, the Quakers are alive and well in PA...William Penn - "Penn"sylvania - Quakers - it's all part of the deal. They are "religious witnesses for peace since 1660."

Well, Margaret went into her Buddhist rant. How the Buddhists feel about evil and protecting yourself from it, etc. Whatever. To each his own. I don't care. I go back to my reading.Then she mentions that she never leaves the house without her Sig Sauer. I looked at Ken with my eyebrow raised...I have NO idea what she is saying. Sig what? Ken makes his best GUN with his hand (on the down-low of course) and I gasp. Quietly. Back to my book. "My stalker!" Those words got my attention. Apparently, she has had a lot to deal with in her life as a VA nurse. Holy her therapist on speed dial?

Something is said about a gun safe accident. My ears perk up as I have a personal aversion to guns. But then she spouted. She frothed. She talked of her life-long dream of owning a gun shop. I almost turn my head and watch her like a TV. But then she whines that her dream was shattered when a 400 lb. gun safe fell on her wife. Yes, I said "wife" - Ken caught the spout of hot macchiato I threw from my lips! So, to make a long story short - because this was a story WAY-too-long for our short supposed-break-from-the-chaos-we-call-life!

Margaret was a ...gun-toting-lesbian-formerly-stalked-Buddhist-nurse!

Any one (or even TWO) of these things would never have caught my attention. But, five? ALL FIVE?! And now her pacifist Quaker friend was discussing hand-gun options with her. She was climbling aboard the GUN-TRAIN!

Seriously, I am such an open-minded, non-judgemental person. I have friends in almost every category of human you can think of - I really do... but this poor woman's life made me sad...AND KEPT ME FROM THE BOOK THAT WAS GOING TO UNCOVER ALL THE PUBLISHING SECRETS I AM CURRENTLY SEEKING!

So, that was date night! Ooooo La La!

Maybe my stress is directly related to WHERE I sit at Barnes & Noble! Give it up? What are my options? I am an addict. But, do people actually pop a Valium before ordering their Macchiato? Let me be the first!

Peace out, Mamas!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Lady Gaga - P!NK - Katy Perry - speak the TRUTH


I am supposed to be setting up my FED UP FRIDAY rant - but instead I am praising some of the top POP STARS of today. Odd for me I know...

Well, if you have read my blog for any length of time you know my SOAP BOX is pulled out quite often for lyrics to today's music. Numerous times I have ranted and raved about the under-the-radar content of the songs we allow our kids to listen to. I have mentioned (and then been brutally bashed) that my teens MAY NOT buy a song for their iPods WITHOUT my approval first.

Soulja Boy RANT
Lady Gaga RANT
Fed Up with Song Lyrics

Well, today I am actually singing the praises of three artists that I would probably just chalk up to inappropriate music. So, those of you who came to bash - you will be disappointed because I am actually thrilled with Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, P!NK and their latest songs and here is why...

Even though I have had issues with their songs on the past, I feel these three women have stepped up, recognized an issue and used their fame to get the message to the population of teens that NEED this message more than anyone. In my past rants, my issues were based in the ages of my children and my complaints were about friends THEIR age listening to music that was NOT aimed at 10 yr olds. My complaint was more toward the parents who don't monitor the music more than directed at the artists themselves.

My 3rd runner-up is the latest song by Lady Gaga, BORN THIS WAY.
(this video link is simply to the audio - not the actual video of this song)
CHECK OUT THIS VERSION though, these kids are AMAZING!


Now, let me preface this review-of-sorts with the disclaimer that there are lyrics in this song that many may find questionable but I am simply basing my opinion of her attempt to have a positive message.

What I like about this song is the underlying message: God made me this way and he doesn't make mistakes. Too many teens feel the need to judge and criticize when someone is different and this is where bullying begins. The message that no one has the right to judge is a good message... still not sure I love ALL of the song but I give Gaga props on her good try at positively influencing youth.

"Whether life's disabilities
left you outcast, bullied or teased
Rejoice and love yourself today
'Cause baby, you were born this way"

2nd runner up is (UPDATE) of my readers (thank you Patti) just shared THIS video with me from P!NK, I like it even better! It's the CLEAN version and is just the words with her singing - LESS THAN PERFECT

(disclaimer: this video is quite strange, has some sexual content and bad language which is a shame because it overshadows the lyrics which is where the GOOD message lies.)

Once again, I need to forewarn you, there are profanities in the un-cut version of this song. I do not enjoy hearing the F-word when I am listening to music so, I would suggest you listen to the CLEAN version of this song.

What I like about this song is the overall message: Celebrate who you are ESPECIALLY of you don't follow the crowd. Be true to you, first! Don't sell out to be what someone ELSE thinks is cool.

P!NK is the first person to act like a goof - just check out the video, she loves being a dork! This is something that needs to be embraced by teens today...just have fun, be you, "cool and popular" is SO overrated and steals who you were really meant to be right out from under you.

"So raise your glass if you are wrong, in all the right ways,all my underdogs,
We will never be never be anything but loud
and nitty gritty dirty little freaks"

\Now, my NUMBER 1 pick is Katy Perry's FIREWORK

Do you ever feel like a plastic bag

Drifting throught the wind
Wanting to start again

Do you ever feel, feel so paper thin
Like a house of cards
One blow from caving in

Do you ever feel already buried deep
Six feet under scream
But no one seems to hear a thing

Do you know that there's still a chance for you
Cause there's a spark in you

You just gotta ignite the light
And let it shine
Just own the night
Like the Fourth of July

Cause baby you're a firework
Come on show 'em what you're worth
Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh!"
As you shoot across the sky-y-y

Baby you're a firework
Come on let your colors burst
Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh!"
You're gunna leave 'em fallin' down-own-own

You don't have to feel like a waste of space
You're original, cannot be replaced
If you only knew what the future holds
After a hurricane comes a rainbow

Maybe you're reason why all the doors are closed
So you could open one that leads you to the perfect road
Like a lightning bolt, your heart will blow
And when it's time, you'll know

You just gotta ignite the light
And let it shine
Just own the night
Like the Fourth of July

Cause baby you're a firework
Come on show 'em what you're worth
Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh!"
As you shoot across the sky-y-y

Baby you're a firework
Come on let your colors burst
Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh!"
You're gonna leave 'em all in awe-awe-awe"

Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon
It's always been inside of you, you, you
And now it's time to let it through

Cause baby you're a firework
Come on show 'em what your worth
Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh!"
As you shoot across the sky-y-y
Baby you're a firework
Come on let your colors burst
Make 'em go "Oh, oh, oh!"
You're gonna leave 'em all in awe-awe-awe
Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon
Boom, boom, boom
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon

So, that's that.
I won't say that there aren't things that bother me or that I feel are questionable but sending the message that YOU WERE BORN TO SURVIVE, BORN TO BE BRAVE, BORN THIS WAY is SO important for teens who are struggling to fit in.
As parents we have to be careful not to just give them free reign, but at the same time we need to also remember they are NOT living in the world WE lived in. It's not safe, it's mean, it's filled with HATE.
Taking the good with a little (off color words/themes/humor) may be the only way to get to some kids. They are a dying breed, teens.... literally.

Looking forward to your comments!

Peace out, Mamas!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Revolutionary TEEN program in the works

Do you have one of these living in your house?

Is there a body in your home that seems to have been taken over by an alien from the planet GRUMPY?

Do you feel like the movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers actually took place overnight and they left their "duds" behind?

I have always had a passion for teens. When I taught high school, before I had children of my own, my heart was reserved for my husband and the teens I spent the day with. I sat for hours and listened to their pain. I had them come to my house to keep them safe from situations in their own homes.

You wonder if I really CAN connect with and get into the teen mind? Here is an excerpt from a novel I am currently writing:

"I barely make it to the stall before the chocolate muffin I had on my way to the bus makes its return and spews forth splashing my feet with toilet water. I wash my hands and watch the water run. I have come to the realization that my life is a lot like the never ending swirl I am staring into. You know, that last bit of soapy filth that never quite disappears. It lays dormant and dries up after all the water dissipates but comes rolling back to life when the roar of the faucet drenches it again. I have so many evils in the Rolodex labeled “abuse” in my brain. More evils than I can handle sometimes. But those same evils are my best weapon at times and help me handle the world around me so I don’t draw attention to myself. Look, the memories I dredged up ten minutes ago helped me sail painlessly through my mock presentation. I splash my face with water and head back to class."

They say the teen years are the most frustrating and painful for parents and teachers... no one knows what to do with them. Many people throw their hands up and give up. They determine "there is nothing we can do!" Well, this is my niche. I am not saying that I have all the answers but I AM saying that I vow to try and find them for a teen who has no where to turn. I have a passion to save them. One by one. But I can only save the ones I know about - the ones I have contact with.

My husband and I have hand-picked a couple other adults who love teens for who they are, see their looming downfall and want to jump in with both feet. We are creating a middle school program that will travel from school to school and not only teach tolerance, gentleness and respect but arm them with the tools they will need to survive those who are chronically intolerant, who bully like it's their job and are increasingly disrespectful to everyone in their wake.

If you think of every horror that has been born in or played out in a school... school shootings, sexual offenses, bullying, suicide, cutting, and verbal or mental abuse it all comes back to RESPECT - but there are three variations of RESPECT - respect of self, others and life.

Somewhere in our timeline, in the last 20 years, we have gone from "stupid" being unacceptable in a school setting to the words "bitch," "faggot," and "f*ck" being thrown around between classes with nothing more than a sharp look or a grimace from an adult. Teachers allow it in their classrooms, parents allow it in their homes. Sure, they are just words, but this is the FIRST place RESPECT tests its boundaries.

From those words that SHOULD make us cringe, they move to actions we don't approve of. We turn our heads and say, "they are teens, that's what they do." SURE that's what they do WHEN THEY KNOW WE ARE TURNING OUR HEADS! But what if we go toe to toe and look them right in the eye and face it...WITH THEM?

But when we don't partner with them they ACT out on themselves and others.

From words to actions - just two steps - two small steps that can mean life or death for the victim.
That victim...
THEMSELVES (drugs/alcohol, cutting, depression, suicide)
OTHERS (bullying, violence, murder)

It is a vicious circle that starts with WORDS, they are the first POWER they are given and the first one they TEST. It is up to the adults in their lives to make sure they use the POWER they are given appropriately! But we don't. We look away when it gets too heavy.
Do you shudder when you hear about the 14 yr old who hung herself b/c everyone called her a slut?
Does your heart ache when you hear of the gang rape at the school around the corner?
Are you horrified when you hear what a RAINBOW PARTY is?
Shocked to hear they pour alcohol in their eyeballs so you don't smell in on their breath?
Well, WAKE UP! They NEED us and they are CRYING out with their ACTIONS!

Neurologists will tell you that the brain is not fully developed until the mid 20's. It develops back to front. The back is where impulses are born and the front is where the control is. The teen years are filled with drama but their brains have NONE of the skills it takes to handle that drama.

If you are a teen, wish someone loved you when you were one or have one you don't know what to do with,  leave me a comment. Tell me what's on your mind.

Peace out, Mamas.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Invisible Woman...

I love speaking to large groups of people... and making them laugh!
I love making people think.
Part of me is ready to take on a speaking 'gig'! (Should I have even SAID that?!)
Yes, I should have because plans are in the works!
(more info to come on THAT subject!)

However, I have never spoken for as many people as Nicole Johnson does.
Watch her in this video! You will be blessed!
She makes me laugh, inspires me AND makes me think!


It's 1:30 am...this invisible woman is going to bed!
Follow Nicole over to her home at Fresh Brewed Life to find "hope for the daily grind!"

Peace out, Mamas!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Inside the mind of a CEREAL SMASHER...

(this is another re-run from 2 years ago - enjoy)

"My name is Michelle and I am the mom of a cereal smasher."

(insert AA-style greeting here, "Hello Michelle!")

I don't pretend to understand the goings on in the cerebral cortex of someone under the age of four. I can't tell you WHY they do the things they do. But I would pay for someone to tell me HOW TO MAKE IT STOP!

There is something evil and twisted lurking inside the skull of he who is three.

This morning as I cleaned up milky smashed cereal pieces with a snow shovel, I pondered why anyone would feel the need to smash their breakfast into every crack and crevice of their favorite press-the-button book. I am certain it does not do much for the acoustics of Thomas the Tank's whistle...the little blue train gurgled and growled at me with each swipe of my dish rag.

I wonder about his mind...his tiny little ABC-reciting, I yuv wu Ma-saying mind. WHAT.IS.HE.THINKING?!
Now, I don't believe that all three year olds compose devious plots against the sanity of their moms. I have three kids and neither of my other children tested my need for Xanax like this one does.

What possesses a child to open the heating vent and shove 13,000 hot wheels inside?

Where in the pre-schooler handbook do you smile sweetly at strangers and then hand them your boogers?

In whose mind is it a good idea to rub cold oatmeal deep into the fur of the dog while Mommy is on the phone? what far corner of his mind do the synapses tell you to feed a pack and a half of Dentyne to the dog?

Then there is the oral fixation....everything goes in the mouth! EV.ERY.THING!

While most children go the picky-eater route at some point, this one....this one has an expanded palette that includes items you wouldn't find in the slop the farmer feeds Templeton and Wilbur. We are talking dog fur, bird poop, rocks, dirt, coins, pushpins, hairy lollipops, someone else's gum, sand, mulch, hard shards of cheese from the dustpan, the juice from a kidney bean can scavenged from the recycling bin, tissues and coffee grounds.
Yum! NOT!

Of course, the destruction and deviant digestion of a typical day is enough to having me peeling my eyelids off before lunchtime, my sanity (or lack there of) eventually comes down to how many temper tantrums I deal with in a day.

I remember seeing the tantrum of a friend's child and thinking, "Wow! She needs to get a handle on that behavior! That is ridiculous!"

But, recently, as I fought for a week to get my son's flailing legs into the leg-holes of the basket portion of the shopping cart while he beat the daylights out of my head with a monster truck, pulled my hair and shrieked as though I was sticking pins under his fingernails, I thought of my friend and her little angel who whined for .7 seconds when it was time to leave our playdate.
I have been banned from WalMart until further notice.

And when is it OK to bash Mommy in the back of the head with the MarioKart steering wheel?
 "EXCUSE ME for nodding off for a mere second during your 106th attempt to NOT be in 12th place!"

If anyone knows a good book about raising a CEREAL SMASHER... please forward the info.

Or....maybe I should write this book... then I could hire a maid to clean up the crumbs and pay for a therapist for me and my oatmeal-soft, minty-fresh dog.

Peace out, Mamas.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Tell me, baby, who do ya looove?

 <3 It's Valentine's Day! <3

For those of you who are single, happily divorced, unhappily divorced, still searching or whatever...
I am here to ask," Do YOU  have a VALENTINE?"

And I am here to tell you, "Yes, you do."

And for those of you who ARE married or in a serious relationship...
I am here ask, "Do YOU have a VALENTINE that ISN'T your significant other?"

And I am here to tell you, "Yes, you do."

Let me explain:

A couple nights ago I got into a pretty deep conversation with a pretty depressed teen. I don't know her that well, so I don't know the back story that caused all the self-hate that she is struggling with. But I jumped in with both feet and we started chatting.

NEWSFLASH: If a teen opens up to matter WHO it is...stop everything you are doing and listen! Teens are notorious for blocking out adults - if you find yourself in a conversation with one and it starts to get deep...take a deep breath, there is a reason YOU are on the receiving end. It could be your gentle spirit that is attracting them...who knows, but don't pass up the opportunity to give your time away. The few, what may seem like, simple insights you share may just change their life.

So, anyway, this high schooler (we will change her name and call her Trisha), Trisha, was in a relationship but found herself falling for a boy who she considered her best friend. She was in a quandary and wanted some advice so we sat and chatted.

Through our conversation I found out that she and the current boyfriend fight but don't really talk a lot. (that's the norm among teen dating in case you didn't know) But the best friend is sensitive, he always tells her she is pretty and worth his time, that he would do anything to make her smile, etc.

So, I asked her, in a non-condescending way, what seemed obvious for me, "Why would you want to stay with Boy A when Boy B seems like such a better choice."

Our conversation got pretty personal and touched on some pretty painful details.

But when she told me he hated everything about herself and there was nothing about her to love, the DING DING DING-ing in my head solved her problem. She needs to love herself before she can ever give that love away. She can pretend to love, but it won't be fulfilling and beautiful. She can fake it but it won't ever take her breath away. It will never be magical.

Trisha and I are working on her issues and have built a sweet mentor/mentee relationship over the last few weeks.

But that is what brings me to my original VALENTINE'S DAY question for you...

"Do YOU have a VALENTINE?"

After reading this story about my conversation with Trisha, I hope the earth shakes with a resounding...

You know the phrase, "If Mama ain't happy, ain't no body happy." Well, this is along those same lines.

Today as a gift to yourself, focus on the things that you LOVE about yourself.

Start with the obvious:
Maybe your hair could make a wig jealous
Your boobs are so perky they can almost look you in the eye (i hate you, btw)
You get the picture.

Then go deeper:
I am a compassionate friend
I give good advice

Then, BE YOUR OWN VALENTINE this year.
It feels good.
C'mon, you are worth it!

Here's one of those Conversation Hearts for you - from me - no calories and no gross chalk flavor!
(can someone tell me WHY those things are so popular, anyway? BLECH!)

Peace out, Mamas!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

When your muse has you by the....BRAIN

This is a VALENTINE'S re-run from a couple years ago!



Today was a hamster wheel kind of day...I ran...I ran...I ran!

Man oh Man, I should be ready to crash but I am feeling a creative vibe today that I just can't shake...and here's how my muse works....

(for those of you new to my blog... I am a writer of children's books...and I dabble in the grown-up stuff, too!)

She (my muse) likes to visit me when I don't even have a second to grab a pencil to jot down her ideas. So, for the rest of the day I traipse through the grocery store, walk the dog, pick up the kids, go to the doctor's and clean the house with the same story outline mantra running through my head...

"mean girl and nice girl stuck in school overnight, mean girl and nice girl stuck in school overnight..."

or "humor essay about girlfriends, humor essay about girlfriends..."

or "doogie howser kind of kid/wants to be a teacher, doogie howser kind of kid/wants to be a teacher..."

So, you see why the checkout girls turn off their light when they see me coming...I am the "repeater" they talk about in the lunchroom. Sigh!

So, my muse must've slept in this morning as I packed lunches, watched over the neighbor kids, got them and 2 of my 3 on the bus and drove my oldest to the doctor without any "a-ha" moments.

But in the middle of a conversation with the doctor about my middle schooler's ailments she flew in...and started banging me on the head with her bag of ideas! I continued looking at the doctor but, like a puzzle, I had no control over the pieces as they started coming together...and they kept coming. They wouldn't stop!

It was an important conversation the doctor and I were having and I didn't want to miss a word so it is a good thing I am "Mom" and not "Dad" because I can do more than one thing at a time.

Then it was off to an area church to drop something off....chatting with the pastor and still, I am putting the pieces together, wishing desperately there was a pad of paper and a pen surgically implanted in my forearm and finger respectively as he spoke. Like an Inspector Gadget kind of deal...little sliding door right above my wrist that reveals a never-ending supply of notepaper and a ballpoint pen sticking out of the tip of my first finger. Oh no, is that another book idea?

"super kid with funky gadgets, super kid with funky gadgets..."

We raced home to get my youngest off the pre-school bus, then some dishes and straightening put me right at the hour that I had to get him to the neighbors so my I could head off to meet my oldest I had just had at the doctor's at ART CLUB (I teach it). A room filled with 36 5th and 6th graders is NOT conducive to carrying on a conversation with the voice in your head or taking notes, for that matter. But I still mumbled, making sure I hadn't lost a single piece of that puzzle.

5pm - it was time to run home, grab the other two kids from the neighbors and throw together something that resembles dinner..."How's a breakfast-dinner sound to everyone? Eggs, waffles and bacon?" SCORE! They ALL said "yes!"

After I (somewhat) cleaned up the kitchen, I poured yesterday's cold coffee still in the pot into a mug, nuked it and sat on the floor and played cars for a bit.

Books, PJs, diapers and 30 repeats of "Silent Night" and all 3 are in bed. It's after 9pm!

That's when I started melting chocolate to make the rest of the 120+ dipped pretzel rods that I started for the 14 teachers and bus drivers who were worthy of something sweet for tomorrow's 1/2 day Valentine's Day celebrations.

Hubby came home, scarfed down some leftovers and we watched the last hour of the Grey's Anatomy/Private Practice cross-over event. He kissed me and went to bed.

That's, of course, when I placed my sprinkled chocolate pretzels in decorative bags and started the cupcakes....yep, cupcakes. It was 11pm and I had 48 cupcakes to make. I will ice them tomorrow before going in to my daughter's class. I think cupcakes is all I was responsible for. You would think as Homeroom Mom I would know these things. But my brain space is being taken up by the book idea I can't seem to find the time to write down. Repeating my mantra, going about my work.

The second batch of cupcakes goes in the oven and I breathed an "everyone is asleep and I have two (maybe three) articles and essays to write" sigh of relief. I even thought maybe, just maybe I could bang out a couple of pages of this new idea my muse was now suffocating me with.

That's when it happened, the inevitable....

...his eye hurts... WHAT?!!!

It is now 12:34 am...the cupcakes are out of the oven cooling, the baby is back to sleep, I have a cup of tea and I am sitting at my computer wondering how I could possibly have enough energy to write this book NOW!

Because everyone knows it would take a minimum of 100 re-writes, 2 1/2 years in production and hours of phone calls and emails about illustration development before it would actually BE on the shelves.

But what a cool story it would be if I did....and it caught someone's attention. Can you see me on the TODAY SHOW as they introduce me as the newest New York Times Best Selling Author?

"Well, Meredith, it really wasn't that difficult, I had an idea and I wrote it."

Good night! Apparently, in the wee hours of Friday morning, I have now become delusional! :)


Basement Re-Do for my P-A-R-T-Y girl

So, when you get pregnant in the Spring, you are destined for a Christmas-time baby. And I have one. My daughter Emily, the 2nd child, was born on December 21st. Barring the fact that I almost died and never made it home for my first-born's 2nd Christmas, it was a great time to have a baby. I have pictures of her all snuggled with presents under the tree on that first Christmas.

Now she is 12!

But as she got older we had to finagle a birthday party without making people uncomfortable, both in schedule and in pocket, around the holidays. This year we opted to plan it WAY out into the future so her 12th birthday party we LAST NIGHT. Yep, almost 2 months later! :) She was fine with it because it gave us time to plan.

My husband envisioned a gaggle of girls and said, "Let's finish the basement." When reality struck, we realized there was no way we could finish the basement in two months so we settled for a really cool TEEN SCENE style set up that would be the place we could send everyone under the age of 30 when they came over to play Wii, spend their snow day, flirt wih or annoy each other. It was a beautiful plan.

It started by hoeing out the crap and moving what would eventually be IN the finished basement to one side and hanging a tarp to hide the carnage.

We have a LONG basement and one end has a little alcove of sorts that would work well for a TV and entertainment system. This photo shows a carpet, but basically it was a long cement rectangle when we started. My hubby found an awesome carpet remnant with pad and brought it home to start the madness. Then we wracked our brains trying to figure out what to do with the walls. We certainly weren't going to start studding and drywalling.

So, WALMART to the rescue. I invested in 40-some long vinyl party table cloths in various bring colors. You can see the cool lamp my husband picked up for them in the far right corner - those colors were my inspiration for tablecloth shopping. The really cool splatter paint banner was from my daughter's webshow, The Kim and Kelly Show - that is their backdrop.  My sons has a webshow as well, The Pete and Dave Show, and his backdrop is hanging across from hers in the other alcove we created on the left for the food/cake table for the party. Now the basement can be their "filming sets," too.
 You can see the gray tarp still hanging to the left...that was unacceptable and needed more color. :)

So more color we you can see the food/cake table, too. We needed food, this was the FIRST boy/girl party. And if you are a mom of or have ever even just FED a boy, you KNOW how much they eat. This FEEDING ALCOVE was a necessity!
About 20 minutes before everyone was going to start coming, my husband decided it was perfect timing to start taking the leather furniture down so they would have the furniture we promised. This furniture has lived through the last 5 years of Izaiah and is now deemed BASEMENT quality. Translation: Mommy is getting NEW sectionals! So, anyway, it is then...20 minutes before I have a houseful of couch potato wannabes...that hubby realized our overstuffed 400 lb couches WON'T FIT THROUGH THE BASEMENT DOOR!

 We opt for the bilco door outside - but the ice storms have made navigating to that side of the house while carrying a 400 lb couch completly impossible.

Now, what? 10 minutes to spare (because I had a 10 minute why-would-you-wait-until-now-temper tantrum) so I jumped in the car and stole 18 bean bags from the nearest church ran to my classroom at church to borrow the  beanbags we use for our 5th/6th graders on Sunday mornings. The beanbags were fun and way more iCarly-style than leather couches (which will eventually be inthe basement - as soon as the ice melts)

I reused the "12" candles from December and in between movies and the JUST DANCE Wii Olympics, we sang and had cake. I love my kids' friends, I truly do. But having the option to sit upstairs with my husband and watch


This morning when they all came up, I had the fixins for pancakes all ready. When I asked who wanted breakfast they told me they were coming up to get the vaccuum to clean up the basement before they ate.

And now they wonder they are all so skinny! LOL!

This is the only evidence that there was a basement full of teenagers last night!!

See why I love these girls so much?!

Peace out, Mamas!

Friday, February 11, 2011

My "Why me?" Week with Ashton Kutcher!

Do you ever find yourself suffering through the "WHY ME?" attitude?

With two teens in the house, I am always dealing with their drama, maybe it is wearing off on me. But there have been many days in the last couple of weeks that I literally look for Ashton Kutcher and wonder WHO nominated ME to get PUNK'D!

Wednesday it was when was talking to my mom on the phone Izaiah decided to go to fill his snow boots with water in the tub and then pour that water all over the floor and rug I had just washed. Mind you, the snow boots were NOT in the upstairs bathroom. He went past me to the laundry room, ran up the stairs with them and proceeded to find a new use for snow boots.
"Mom, I gotta go, I think Ashton Kutcher is in my house."

Thursday it was when I finally sat down in the living room after all the kids came home. We were all in the same room at the same time - it was sweet. REAALLY covered in chocolate sprinkles sweet.....
Izaiah ran into the room with the jar of chocolate sprinkles I had left out. His body did a "come and get me" pose. He ripped the lid off and threw his head back for a mongo SHOT of jimmies! Of course, as if that wasn't bad enough, when Matthew hopped up to grab them from him, because I was too lazy to get off the couch further from him than Matthew was, he did it again, only THIS time 2400 of them went directly into his nasal cavity! In an effort to clear said nasal cavity he snorted....IN!
"Yes, Dr. Devaney, unless I am being PUNK'D I think Izaiah has 2400 chocolate sprinkles embedded in his frontal lobe."

This morning was the GRAND FINALE!
We are getting ready for the first teen boy-girl party the Brownlow's have EVER hosted. We have an unfinished basement and are getting new furniture for our upstairs living room. So, we are moving all furniture downstairs and my job was to make it so "TEEN" cool that no one would ever want to leave. Uh..did I just say that? Well, anyway, that is what my day is today - unfinished basement ----->iCarly-style set before 6pm. :) I am so excited to do this for her. She likes a boy and he is coming. She is such an appreciative kid, too. She is thrilled and humbled that we are doing all of this for her party. Her birthday is days before Christmas so this is a LATE-birthday party that she has waited patiently for us to get planned for her. She is such a sweet kid. I LOVE doing this for her. Did I say the boy she likes is coming? (giggle)

With this on my mind, I ask my husband to take Izaiah to preschool this morning so I could use every second of time to get organized for when the house is empty for the rest of the day. Well, while I was trying to be productive Izaiah decided to play Wii instead of eating his breakfast and my husband had to leave so I told him I would just take him.

We were running late and we dashed out the door, only to find my windshield covered in ice - not I had to scrape....time is TICKING ASHTON, this is NOT funny anymore!

I get him to school, leave the car running while I run in b/c I also need to run down the hall and get a quick squeeze from my niece before I go. Yay! All satisfied. Turned my frustrating morning around...

...until I climb back in my warm car and see it is on empty. I push the little button on the dash that tells me how many miles I have left before it it TRULY on empty.

0 miles

Well, Sheetz is 1/2 mile away and my house is 1 mile away. I look at my watch, my daughter's bus will be at the house in 3 minutes. She knows not to get on the bus if I don't make it back in time but then that adds a trip to school to add to my day if she misses the bus.

Gas = not running out of gas = missed bus = unplanned trip to school
No gas = running out of gas before I get home = cold walk home = missed bus = unplanned trip to school = call to husband to come bring a gas can ....

I head to Sheetz.

Now, I am home, she made it onto the bus, my coffee is strong and hot...

I just got a text from the mom of the boy she likes, he is home sick and won't be at her party tonight....


Peace out Mamas.
(I will post pics of the progress of the room in the basement)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Welcoming myself BACK to the BLOGOSPHERE!

Once upon a time there was a mom who spent her days pretending to get housework done working the fingers on her left hand to the bone and blogging with her right. There wasn't a moment of her life that didn't land on the pages of MY SEMBLANCE OF SANITY.

She had thousands of fans that laughed and cried the days away as they shared happiness and sometimes grief through the years. This popular Mommy Blogger was nominated for awards, was asked to write of other websites and even got the attention of publishers and agents with her goofy rants that could turn a harrowing situation into a run-for-the-bathroom-gonna-pee-my-pants moment.

Well, this Mommy Blogger went away for awhile. No, she wasn't incarcerated! No, she didn't fake her own death. She didn't even claim to be kidnapped and run off with Joe Jonas to Hawaii....wait, let me think about that for a minute....

I have been LONGING to get back to all of you and BLOG my pants off! Mainly because the media has inundated me with things I need a soapbox for and my facebook status slots are just NOT giving me the same validation that my AMAZING fans have in the past.

The last thing I wrote that wasn't a repeat or a product/book review was in June when a tornado hit our house. Yes, our house in the southeastern corner of PA.... where tornadoes DON'T go! Before that, the last time my blogging skipped more than a week or two was in 2007!

So, no matter the reason, no matter the time that has lapsed in between... I AM BACK! Can you gather your friends? Can you link to me on your facebook? Will you friend me on facebook?

I NEED YOU! I have missed you!

So, let me RE-introduce myself to you...and let the PARTY begin!
Since the last time I blogged:

1. I turned 40
2. I went VEGAN after a month of eating completely RAW last spring

3. My kids have all had birthdays - Matthew is 13, Emily is 12 and Izaiah is 5

4. I started illustrating for - an emergent reader publisher
5. I have a new baby - a chinchilla named Wodney

6. Our office has been turned into a HUGE studio just for moi

*crafting area*
*drawing area*
*writing area* (not ME pictured, LOL)
7. I still think my husband is the hottest man alive

8. Yesterday I had to dump 17 gallons of water out of size 12 snow boots
9. Yesterday I also had to clean up poo-water after the toilet overflowed WITH POOP IN IT
10. I have become a JUST DANCE 2 addict and will fight to the death for the high score
11. I am (with my husband) designing a middle school assembly program and have written a book for teens to coincide with it
12. I am also addicted to facebook - FRIEND ME!
13. I opened my own Etsy shop

14. I am also addicted to OMGH I could spend HOURS playing around with pictures

15. I have 30 minutes to finish this list before I go pick up Iz from preschool
16. Did I mention I can JUST DANCE with the best of them?
17. I have become more passionate than ever for TEENS and MIDDLE SCHOOLERS
18. While horsing around with the kids I blew my knee out and tore my meniscus over the Christmas break
19. I have not scrapbooked in WAY TOO LONG
20. I'm still making some killer cakes
*for my niece*

*for HOTCOP, remember him?*

21. I still play with my food
22. I did another mural - this one didn't take a year and a half to finish
23. I teach some amazing 5/6th graders on Sunday mornings in a program @ our church
24. I have 22 minutes to finish this
25. 25 is my favorite number!
....and I am still a goofball, I am still passionate, I still wear my heart on my sleeve and love helping people!

I am also hoping that when I hit post that my photos aren't overlapping my words  - I am having flashbacks of trying to get those tornado pics posted!!!
***UPDATE: the pics are ALL OVERLAPPING!! Grrrrrrr***
***UPDATE, again: OK, the overlapping is gone but how about the spaces?? WHY SO MANY?"
***UPDATE again: 4th try's the CHARM, right?

I hope you don't get sick of me! I hope you're glad I am back!

SUBSCRIBE if you haven't already :)

Peace OUT, Mamas!