Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dare is sumbuddy sweepin' on da table...

(I happened upon this sweet moment this afternoon while peeking back through my old blog posts - I thought I would re-post this moment from two years ago hoping to bring you a smile, too!)

So, this morning a little person, one just tall enough for his chin to hit the top edge of my mattress runs into my room and says, "Ma! Ma! Dare is sumbuddy sweepin' on da table. Come on, yook! Sumbuddy sweepin' dare!"

OK, so if you are in a deep sleep and someone squeals that in your ear...are you a little freaked out? Well, as I follow his skipping body down the hall and to the steps, I am wiping sleep out of my eyes and thinking...What the heck am I going to do if he is serious? What if 'sumbuddy' broke in and (for some ridiculous reason) fell asleep on our kitchen table? Even as I was thinking it, I knew what a FREAK that made even entertain the thought...but I did.

"DARE! DARE him is! Yook!"

I squint. I 'yook' while trying to look muscular, in case this sleeping intruder is bigger than me. You know, I go into protective Mama Bear mode.

"My shwoggie! Him is on da table!"

His froggy. The %$#%**&%* plastic frog I bought him at Michael's last night! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

"Yes, bud, there is your froggy. Is he awake?"

(mumble, mumble)

"Maa, you pway Wii wit me?"

"Baby, just let mommy fill her veins with something that will make me happy to be playing Wii with you get some coffee first.

I galumph over to the coffee maker as the sound of a way-too-awake Mario and Luigi race around my living room.

Finally, I sit on the couch and we start a two player race. He likes to do the battles, which means there are like 429 games in a row. I blink my eyes, sip my drug, and prepare to KICK HIS BUTT!

In between races we high-five and giggle. This is sweet. We do it every morning. And by the second race (thanks to my coffee), I am totally into it - we have a blast!

This morning we were 3 games in and I couldn't tell you who was winning because every time I get ahead of him, he pauses the game and we trade steering technically HE is kicking MY butt!

In between the 37th and 38th race (I am exaggerating) I lay my steering wheel in my lap and reach down for my coffee that was sitting at my feet. He peeps over at me as I put my cup to my lips and start to sip....

...some crazed lunatic entered his body (maybe it was that growling spiky turtle thing that he chooses as his character to drive his race car) and he, with all the force capable of being in a 4-year old body, he punches me. Not in my arm but IN MY COFFEE CUP! And it's a KO!

The angle in which his little fist struck the mug sends scalding coffee UP MY NOSE, all over my face, on my PJs (that I was hoping to keep clean so I could justify wearing them to the bus stop in 28 seconds when his bus rounds the bend), all over the leather couch, the off-white get the picture.

I have to tell you...12 seconds later I was giggling.

Not because I had finally lost my mind. Not because I was dreaming of the glorious free time I would have while he is duct-taped to the wall (DO NOT EMAIL ME! I AM JUST KIDDING!).

I giggled, with coffee dripping from my nose and my chin, because the look in his eyes as he realized what his body had done, apparently without the approval of his brain, was priceless!

He did the 'eyeballs out of the head' gawk and then took off like a shot! His little body zipped in a mini-human blur out of the living room, in and out of the kitchen, through the baby gate that he broke (busted a rung off of so he could fit through) a couple months ago, up the stairs, into his room and slammed the door! SLAM!

The coffee cleaned up without a problem. And I found out that SNORTING coffee isn't all that bad and actually wakes you up more than drinking it.

He bravely walked down the steps and sulked into the kitchen, tail between his legs, and said, "Sowwy, Mommy. You pway Wii wit me?"
We had 4.6 seconds to get to the bus Wii...but time for
...a big snuggle for saying "Sorry"
...a "Please don't do that again."
...and a smile as he waved from the bus window.
Lesson learned? DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE!

Friday, September 16, 2011

FRIENDS...what have they taught YOU?!

Friends are a choice we make. My first friend tried to take a bite out of my face. I don't remember this, but so I am told. It was 1971 in Shreveport, La. His name was Todd and our mothers were best friends. We moved north in 1973, and 14 years later our families had a reunion in Texas. Todd and I went on our first, and only, date. I arrived home unscathed.

Melissa and I have a friendship that has lasted almost 38 years, and if I had one dollar for every panicked phone call and only fifty cents for each giggle, I would far-surpass the estate of Bill Gates. We are quite opposite in some respects, but that has never stood in the way of our friendship as our hearts are in tune. We have become women and mothers side-by-side. Melissa and I talk or text almost weekly and she remains a chosen sister.

Sometimes friends come as a package deal, which is the case with Andra, Shannon and Lauren. We spent our teenage years hand-in-hand and most of our adult life side-by-side. We handled heart aches and applauded accomplishments. We welcomed husbands and babies. Over the years, and with the addition of numerous children and some relocating, it has been difficult to remain connected and that saddens me. My heart yearns for that familiarity. But the gift they gave me over those years is priceless.

Ken and I met in college through a common acquaintance. We shared a level of trust and openness I never shared with any of my female friends. I never had conversations of such depth with any friend prior to being blessed with Ken's camaraderie. There were many times that we lost track of time discussing a plethora of subjects and were surprised when the morning sunrise peeked through the shades. We met Sept. 14, 1989, and were married July 24, 1993.

Michelle, a fellow Nittany Lion, followed Ken and I to New York after finishing her Master's degree, where we continued to be the Three Amigos. Having endured a collegiate battle with cancer, she was strong and climbed the corporate ladder by never settling for less than her best. Michelle was beautiful, inside and out. Her zest for life gave her a gentle edge that made her a magnet for friends. The impact of her friendship is tattooed on my heart forever. On Nov. 8, 1996 she was promoted to angel. I still shed tears for her.

Jeri is my twin from another mother. Her husband Jeff, strangely enough, is so much like Ken it is bizarre. They were our first "couple" friends and remain some of our closest. Sharing the same wedding anniversary almost to the hour makes for great celebrations. Jeri and I are so close that sometimes we scare ourselves. I will never forget the day we had lunch together, each planning to surprise the other with our "expectant" news. Jeri is that friend who keeps no tallies. She can't tell you who called who last or how long it has been since we last chatted. It is refreshing to dial the phone after months of no contact and anticipate her voice because I know her tone will not be anything but sheer joy when she hears mine.

My current gal pals on occasion have me laughing until I think my sides will split. Before Anne-Marie, Michele, Goose and Sally, I was pretty certain that my girlfriend laugh meter had maxed out years ago. But our friendship goes deeper than laughter - much deeper. Our faith knits us together. Whether it is a trip to Wal-Mart for random needs, a text message for a good laugh or a phone call to check in on someone's stressful day, we stay connected. Our lives have yet to get in the way of our friendship, in fact, our the chaos, heartbreak and the beautiful celebrations in our lives sweeten our bond as sisters. Even on the worst days the laughter remains. Laughter truly is the best medicine within our sweet sisterhood. I truly owe my sanity to these four women.

From Todd I learned that friendship can span a country as well as a decade. Melissa has taught me a beautiful lesson in unconditional friendship. Andra, Shannon and Lauren showed me how a friendship can shape who you are and who you will become. Ken proved to me that honesty is always the best policy.

Michelle was a beautiful vision of what it means to be at peace with who you are. Jeri has given me the refreshing gift of being "real." Anne-Marie, Michele, Goose and Sally have blessed me with faith-filled friendship.

Think of the friends who have impacted your life. Reach out and thank them. Return the favor; you will be blessed.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Halls of Skin and Bone...

*(I bumped this post up! It's a repeat, ENJOY!)*
Today we did some school shopping. I got a babysitter and I took my older two to the mall.
I love the smell of Back-to-School!
Not the fact that the fruit of my loins will actually spend hours away from me 5 days a week (I hate that part) but just the tingly excitement of that first day. The new kids, new teachers, locker combinations, new notebooks, cute boys, being late to the class I didn't even sign up for but ended up being on my schedule, unexpectedly getting my period, tripping up the stairs in front of the boy I was planning on having a crush on that day and having egg salad soup at the bottom of my locker at luchtime.
Well, not ALL my memories are good ones I guess. But, I still get excited for the shopping!
On our trip, we went to all the stores that kids love: Children's Place, Old Navy, GAP and some department stores that Mom dragged them into in hopes of a good sale. But then I had the great idea to travel into a world unknown...Hollister.
I have never been able to figure out the fashion phenomenon of a NAME. What makes a name when it comes to fashion? How do the words GAP, ABERCROMBIE, AEROPOSTALE define multi-millions in sales? They are cool clothes, I enjoy the styles and quality but I have a strong feeling if they looked identical but were called SMITHSENSTRUBER they wouldn't be so cool!
So, we walk into Hollister - our first time. It's a dark and loud store. I actually felt like I was walking into a bar. That's how they sell clothes! You are squinting and can't see a thing and the music is so loud when you ask where to find the clothes that cost less than $400 you can't hear what the 4-year old sales girl who weighs 20 lbs. says. So, you grab up a couple things, head to the register, swipe your card and head for the nearest CVS for some Advil, Oil of Olay and Slim Fast.
I am not a name-dropper or someone who needs to have the latest name brand fashions and I try to deter my children from feeling that is necessary.
knock off designer purses don't count because they are not real

But, I have shopped long enough to know that even the stores that cause you to take out a second mortgage just to outfit your three children for one day DO, in fact, sometimes have good sales. I just thought it would be cool for my first-time middle-schooler to have a Hollister T-shirt for school...I would do anything to give him a leg up on the sometimes cruel competition.
So, we walk in and head right for the clearance racks.

Of course, we had to pass the posters...ugh, the posters...what was this, the red light district? Are they SELLING SKIN in this store? Well, then why is so much of it showing?? The girls in the posters weigh approximately 14.5 ounces and have the slender shape of Gumby! Their apparent poster boy love interests have 6-pack abs that go the whole way dowwwwwwwwwn to a VERY TOO LOW waist line.

I was covering my daughter's eyes and blushing before we got past the cash register! I think I actually felt myself get fatter in this store. I could see the sales staff wasting away while I unbuttoned my shorts to relieve the pudge that was growing underneath my not-Hollister, mom clothing. I wanted to BARF. THEY needed to eat.

"C'mon, honey, have some fries, a milkshake, SOMETHING that will make you weigh more than my purse!"

I found some great sales after asking a nice kid who walked us
because he had lost his voice from screaming directions to the customers all day

I know, I know. I should not be school shopping for ME but I have to say, I got sucked into the Hollister haze and wanted to wear the word, too! Of course, that feeling quickly faded when I held up a t-shirts that could have doubled as a sock on this mom body.

They got shirts.

I got perfume and pretended each squirt would airbrush me to the size of that $@!#! poster girl!
Still squirting...


Peace out, Mamas!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

KATE*VERSATIONS... September 12, 2011

Well, it's an end of an era...

I am not someone who can say, "I have watched since the very first episode." Quite honestly, I don't even remember WHICH episode was my first. I just know they were in their Lancaster County home that first time I "met" Jon and Kate and their brood!

I can't tell you the kids' birth order, I know all their names and I know Joel was the final Gosselin to make his appearance that beautiful day in May!

I didn't start watching the show for any reason other than I LOVE being a mom and think most moms follow an unwritten rule book by supporting one another through the good times and the bad. Knowing this woman named Kate had twins and then 6 more, I knew she would have good times and really, really bad ones so I enlisted as a "fan" of the show as a means to give her my support... in a "GO GET 'EM GIRL!" kind of way!

As I watched I saw a mom growing into her role as a mom of multiples... as a mom of EIGHT! Dear Lord, I wasn't sure how she was going to do it! But I was going to, once a week, cop a squat in my living room after putting the kids to bed and be part of her chaos b/c I was SO THANKFUL God picked HER and not ME! :)

To be honest, it was those precious little chubby cheeks and unsteady scampers that kept me coming back in the beginning... their big eyes and stout giggles blessed me to no end. Yes, I thought it was a little strange that I felt so attached to someone else's kids... that I had never seen in person. Weird? Maybe. But I didn't care, I wanted more.

As I struggled through my own days as a mom to two children only one year apart and an extra-needs foster baby, I became one mom on the inside and another on the outside. I was sad, scared, angry, guilty where no one else could see and a happy, cheery homeroom mom when everyone else was looking.

That's when I started looking to Kate in admiration. Sure, she flipped out on Jon... A LOT! But, seriously, how many moms reading this have never gone off on their husband and looked back later and thought, "Ewww, I didn't like what that felt like!" Well, guess what, if you are on a reality show... you get to add one more dimension to that, you get to say, "Ewww, I didn't like what that LOOKED like!"

What I admired most about Kate is she was not someone who would mince words. She was not one mom on the inside and another on the outside like I was. So, then I watched because she helped me be a better mom. The after-show credits would start rolling and I would look at my husband and say, "Wow! All I had to deal with today was a temper tantrum at a doctor's appointment, more than HALF of her kids were PUKING!" And, I have a rule.... if you can divide your children into fractions smaller than THIRDS, you have MY respect!

Fast forward to today. Kate is still that woman. She has remained stoic and strong through a very public divorce, she handles the unwarranted hate with grace, she continues to put those beautiful eight blessings FIRST. Yes, FIRST! Any mom whose true goal is for her kids to have the best lives possible is putting her kids first. Some moms work three jobs and hardly ever see their kids but in many cases that is their only option.... and they do it FOR their kids!

Kate has found her calling. The camera loves her, she SHINES! So, if she can pair her passion with providing for her family while staying grounded and being "Mom" to eight awesome kiddos, then more power to her!

Many of us sit back and whine about what we WISH we could do for ourselves and our kids. Kate just DOES it! And she does it like nobody's business!

Kate, I am sorry to see you go. I will miss the aldergators and unnawears. But my prayer for your family is one of peace, protection, guidance, discernment and pure joy!

Love and hugs to You, Cara, Madelyn, Alexis, Hannah, Aaden, Collin, Leah and Joel!

We'll see you around!

"Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4

Fans, go check out K8's NEW SITE!
Just launched yesterday! It's BEAUTIOUS!!!

** oh, yeah, and ALL HATE comments will be deleted ... so don't bother!**

Friday, September 9, 2011

Kate Gosselin and I: Crafting together...

(Originally posted on 10/22/09, I thought with the END of the Gosselin/TLC era, I would re-post one of my favorite Kate posts from the past)


I know, I know. You are thinking, "Where did that come from?"

Well, if you have been around this blog for any amount of time, you know that I am on TEAM KATE!

Especially, especially especially during this time of her life! Ugh! I cannot imagine going through a divorce and even more, I can't imagine it happening so publicly! My heart is with ya, sistah!

So, I decided on something that would take her mind off the "junk" people are putting out there because they have nothing better to do than bash people they don't even know…

A NEW reality show...Kate and mine…a spin-off of sorts. With my fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants creativity and her very structured nature, I think we could keep the ratings up and satisfy a major network simply on the fact that we would never be totally OK with the other one’s idea of fun.

But, we are adults, we are women, we would have a blast. I have a lot of friends and thousands of you reading my blog and from time to time you all think I have completely lost my mind. Like when I tell you the creative projects we get into at my kitchen table.

Having been a high school art teacher, messes don’t really freak me out. When we are working with supplies that won’t wash off, you know, the kind that stain your skin for a couple weeks, then we go outside. Easy.

My outlook is, “no medium will last as long as a tattoo!”

Our NEW reality show would highlight the fun you can have with your kids without having an aneurysm. With eleven kids on our heels, can you imagine the number of segments we could tape in a short time?

Unlike me, Kate is adamant about her hate for messes. She doesn’t do them. Ever. And quite honestly, with 8 kids, who would?!

In one episode, she and Jon take the kids to the Crayola Factory in Easton and she barely lets the kids try anything. Although, I totally respect her fear of messes (remember, I have lived with a fear-of-messes husband for 15 years), I have made it my mini-mission in life to show moms that Art doesn't always = messes. It is doable with the RIGHT supplies and an ample amount of planning ahead.

I did one of those projects with my youngest this morning and it was delightful. Not a messy hand in sight! My husband has a hard time with my messy tendencies. When it rains, we go outside and play in the mud. When it’s hot we have water fights...with our clothes on. We have even been known to have a small food fight or two.

Although messy and causing my husband a few small strokes, the fun we have will create life-long memories of family fun. It's good to see Mommy and Daddy getting messy and being big kids! Even if Daddy twitches a little.

In my “research” on reality shows it is necessary to have a couple things to be a long-running phenomenon. ]

One of the things on my reality show checklist is an interesting venue. A place that has never ending possibilities for interesting outings … check. Lancaster County is filled with fun and not-so-common-to-the-rest-of-the-planet adventures. I can see me and Kate overseeing a finger painting project using a horse and buggy as our canvas. I see a big sheet of paper clothes-pinned to the side of the buggy...of course the horse's tail will probably whip away a fly and get into the paint...oh that would add a VERY cool element to a kid-style painting! We could donate the “painting” to Hershey Medical Center to hang in the pediatric wing. Who knows, that horse could become famous! Elephants do it!

Talent is a definite must on my checklist and I think Kate has this covered. Any woman that can juggle 8 children day-in and day-out is Mom-of-the-Year in my book. And I have the creativity piece of our show covered! How cool would it be if the Gosselin kids and mine could do art projects and then we could have greeting cards printed with proceeds going to charity! I could write funny blog entries and illustrate each episode to give viewers juicy behind-the-scenes tidbits. People love that stuff! I LOVE THAT STUFF!!

Of course just the right amount of sheer chaos completes the recipe for blockbuster reality show. Just re-read the above paragraphs, close your eyes and visualize the opportunities for chaos. (although in my twisted brain I REALLY TRULY don't see it as chaos! Honest!) Mom viewers would love it. Well, maybe I just needed to talk myself into believing that as my 12-year anniversary of being stay-at-home mom approaches, I actually have a ‘marketable expertise’. Maybe I am distracting myself from cleaning. Either way, I think I may be onto something. Peace.

Please remember this post was written in JEST - something SILLY! If you are tempted to call me a STALKER, please click "next blog" and leave your nastiness elsewhere.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

*KATE*VERSATIONS September 5, 2011

Well, I will admit, I was the first to say that the promos for this week's RV episode were edited to make it LOOK like Ashley was freaking out at Kate. I would have put money on the fact that Ashley was freaking out on Jamie, her mom, and TLC was making it LOOK like her anger was directed at Kate.

Well, sadly I say that was  not the case. I would be so hurt if my "friends" threw me under the bus the way Jamie and Ashley did to Kate on this episode. Now, I realize there is a lot of footage on the editing room floor that none of us will ever get to see so I am only basing my opinions on what I saw.

So, I decided to do my post differently this week. Ima gonna lay it out this way:

Top 5 Reasons Why I Would Have LOST it Bigger Than Kate Did

#5 - Trust issues!

When a man puts you in a raft and tells you (and the 6 children he put in behind you) that he will NOT be taking you into the rapids and then he does, this man deserves to have his 'unnawears' pulled up around his ears.

I am sorry, when you are being paid to "entertain" me, you BEST NOT lie to me! I have huge anxiety issues and this would have sent me over the edge. Completely. And I have a story to prove it.

My dear husband of 18 years once took me on a wave runner ride in the ocean. Because I am uber anxious about trying new things I told him I had some rules if he wanted me to be the adventurous wife he was craving that day. I told him that for starters this was the OCEAN and I am petrified of sharks so, under NO circumstances was he to flip the thing or try and dunk me in any way. I also told him we would need to start out slow and no jumping waves. I wanted to RIDE not join The "You'll never believe how much air you can get on one of these things" Club! What does he do? No sooner was my butt planted behind him on the seat, he gunned it, jumped three waves, turned it on it's side with 1/2 my body UNDER the water, did a water-style donut and gunned it again.

I think he was ignoring my screaming as it wasn't until my fingernails pierced his gall bladder that he headed back for shore. That was 17 years ago and I haven't gotten on a motorized vehicle (other than a car) with him since. TRUST is a biggie for me!

#4 "She's being a BLEEP!"

Oh no she didn't! Jamie.... her best friend... who probably helps her process the drama that the paparazzi and the haters create for her just gave those haters a BIG OLE HEALTHY bone to chew on! I can't imagine the pang in Kate's gut when she saw the BLEEP! There's only been two BLEEPS on this entire show's history and both have come from Jamie on last night's episode. Which brings me to my #3.

#3 "She can kiss my BLEEP!"
Really? You and all of your kids are on a FREE trip across the country and you are going to pull THAT? I cannot imagine having a friend that would do this to me. I have a group of 4 best friends and we are as close as sisters. Sure there is drama from time to time. Have you ever known sisters/friends who didn't have drama? That is a natural occurrence in ANY relationship. But, when we have issues with each other the LAST thing we do is take the name calling route and I think I can say without a shadow of a doubt, none of those amazing women that I call BFFs would say such nasty things about me on TV. This is unacceptable.  I think I would have sent Jamie home with Ashley and finished the trip in the RV with air-conditioning.

#2 If it LOOKS like it's organized then let's KEEP it organized!

"The secret of all victory lies in the organization of the non-obvious." ~Marcus Aurelius

"First comes thought; then organization of that thought, into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality." ~Napoleon Hill

There is a reason Kate's home runs the way it does with only one parent. The woman has organization down to a science. She could go on the road and hold conferences for those of use who try but fall short of what needs to be done to make our children's home life run like a well-oiled machine!

Now, this is NO surprise to Jamie and Ashley so why would they jeopardize the time they all had together by throwing that all to the wind. Can you imagine the chaotic hell they would all be faced with if Kate put her feet up around the campfire, didn't organize the bathing suits or make sure all the staff had designated left overs? Talk about train wreck, it wouldn't even be fit to air! It would be the vacation many of US take and we have all had those vacations, haven't we?

The woman is a genius when it comes to being organized - you would have to with 8 kids on your own. Sure she gets help but the quality of the time your sitter can spend with your kids is directly related to how organized your life is. If the sitter can find the food carefully portioned out and labelled in the fridge then the kids will eat. If she can locate extra clothing at a moments notice then there won't be any boys in Dora sneakers. If you really sit back and imagine your last Mom-tantrum, couldn't it, in some 'six degrees of separation' kind of way, be traced back to DISorganization?

We vacation in the OBX with 20 people - 8 adults and 12 kids - every year in one monster house. It is an amazing trip and so much fun but when something gets thrown off and things don't go the way we planned  b/c someone isn't keeping up their end of the deal - it gets hairy! The eight adults need to be that well-oiled machine or the kids begin to break down. Kids THRIVE on structure (they will tell you they don't until they are blue in the face but psychology supports this theory) and when the structure is lacking it increases the stress for the kids.... which increases the stress for the adults... you see where I am going here?

So, Jamie and Ashley, help a sister out!

#1 Under NO circumstances... you BASH a mom in front of her children! Are you kidding me? Who does this?

I know it seems like I am ripping Jamie and Ashley a new one but COME ON! On what planet is it OK to trash a woman in front of her children? This is just common sense. There was more that one scene from this episode where the kids were either sitting by Jamie and Ashley as they complained or were dragged into a, "Did you hear what your mom said..." kind of bash fest. This is completely uncalled for and unacceptable. Period.

So there is my list...

Now, I know Jamie and Ashley were under some ridiculous amounts of stress as well and I am not making a judgement call on them as women... simply stating the areas that, if handled differently, could have turned this trip around for the better... for all of them.

My best friends can spout off the times my anxiety over plans getting changed at the last minute or packing on the last day of vacation has gotten the best of me. I am sure they have wanted to hit "rewind" so I could see how irrationally I acted. I have walked this line before with best friends WITH as many kids in tow, but NOT in an RV and we cooked all our meals INSIDE, in the AC, with no bugs, or stanky campfire smoke (which is another issue for me!)... so....

Yes, Kate got teary a couple times and she yelled... but she didn't go APE POOP on anyone. I see such growth in her reserve over this last season without Jon. I see her heart on her sleeve, the "wall" has dropped a little, there is so much more laughter, so much more "I will try it once," so much more SMILING!

Kate, you are a good mom! You are an awesome example to your children! You are an inspiration to all of the rest of us imperfect women! I am happy you and Jamie and Ashley have made peace - that is a sign of true friendship and you are blessed to have that.

All I can say is THANK GOD there is no MKB + Her 3 show b/c that RV trip would have sent me to the rubber room! I kid you not!

One more episode!